A Queenstowner is bringing the radical nature-inspired architecture he’s using for a colossal project in China to his home town.
Fred van Brandenburg and his business partners have applied for resource consent for a 100-room, 11-level Frankton Road hotel designed to represent wave action on Lake Wakatipu below.
The veteran architect and his partners have owned 595 Frankton Rd since the 1990s.
They originally planned a 10-lot residential subdivision for their steep 5500 square metre site.
But, they changed tack when a developer proposed buying the land for a multi-unit development.
Van Brandenburg says the party pulled out when they could only make 45 units stack up.
“I thought, bugger it, I’m an architect, I can have a go myself to see what capacity it does have, and I found I could put in about 100 units.”
Ten years ago the partners gained resource consent to develop a 100-unit complex, which was varied in 2009 in response to the wishes of a proposed buyer.
That buyer, however, didn’t proceed with the deal because of the global financial crisis.
Van Brandenburg, meanwhile, turned his attention to designing a mammoth headquarters for a fashion label in Shenzhen city, China.
The building, covering 120,000sq m, or 12 rugby fields, reflects his shift to a more organic, sculptural style of architecture, comprising a series of interconnecting, curvilinear structures representing a bird in flight.
Construction started in 2009, and is still about two years from completion.
Last year, van Brandenburg exhibited his project at the prestigious Venice Architecture Biennale in Italy.
“I discovered a lot of people gravitated towards my kind of architecture and many Kiwis who came along asked why there weren’t more van Brandenburgs in New Zealand.
“Then I thought, hey, wait a minute, I’ve got a site.
“So I came back with a new resolve to do something back in NZ on this site.”
Though the current consent runs till 2019, van Brandenburg says it’s a dull design that looks like a wall of five buildings.
The new design, according to the resource consent application, “creates a variety in its façade by having sculptural cantilever forms, representing waves on the Wakatipu, draped over the entire building”.
He also proposes sculpting the undersides of the retaining walls to represent a waka, or Maori canoe, with the wall curved to represent the hull and the supports representing the oars.
The entrance structure off Frankton Rd contains upward sweeping stone-clad roofs representing Cecil and Walter Peaks in the background.
Van Brandenburg’s also designed a large reserve out front, connecting with an already-approved jetty, to make the development look attractive from the Frankton Track.
He also plans extensive use of recycled ceramics, tiles and marble.
Van Brandenburg says he’s talking to several potential developers including one in the United States who’d rope in the world-wide Marriott chain to manage the hotel.
He’s reluctant to estimate the construction cost.
“Compared to conventional architecture the cost estimate at this stage is still guesswork, given the geometry and finishes we are using, gleaned from our project in China, are unprecedented in NZ.”
The Queenstown urban design panel produced a favourable report in February.
“The panel considers that the more compact nature of the building with its sculptural form, tapered edges, underground carparking and interesting materiality provides greater merit than the previous scheme that was consented to on the site.”