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Packing a punch - vibrant interior embodies the energy of Les Mills gym from Commercial Design Trends volume 2715
The revitalised Britomart precinct is at the heart of Auckland's increasingly dynamic waterfront district. As such, it is a particularly high-profile CBD location for any business.
Leading gym operator Les Mills has capitalised on the location. The firm has stamped its arrival at Britomart with its high-energy Unleash Yourself branding that ensures the long glazed frontage on one of the city's busiest streets is maximised.
Designer Paul van Lent of Warren and Mahoney says creating a transparency through the building was one of the key drivers of the design.
"The business occupies the ground floor of a large car park building, which is essentially a raw concrete shell. The ground floor steps down towards the back of the site – potentially this could have made the interior very dark. However, because we were designing the premises as the structure was being built, we were able to influence the building design to suit a gym layout. For example, additional excavation allowed natural light to reach deeper into the space, providing a terraced connection between the main levels. And the structure was engineered to enable selected columns to be removed from the plan, allowing a column-free space in key areas."
Van Lent says the design team worked with the existing concrete shell, exposing all the services to provide a semi-industrial backdrop onto which they could then stamp the Les Mills branding.
"The interior needed to encapsulate the Les Mills experience embodied by the Unleash Yourself branding campaign," he says. "We wanted to provide an environment where that experience comes to life. Maintaining the large scale and volume of the building, for example, has ensured each fitness area has a visual connection with the rest of the gym. Each area can feed off the energy created by the different activities happening simultaneously throughout the building."
Part of this transparency is provided by the terraced link between the main levels, which forms a natural amphitheatre. In areas where the acoustics need to be separated, there are double-glazed walls and partitions.
"The space still reads as one volume, but noise transference between the fitness areas is controlled," says van Lent. "Acoustic ceilings also help reduce noise levels, and the different design of each of the suspended ceilings helps to define specific areas."
To aid navigation through the building, the key circulation route from front to back is flanked by bright yellow colourbacked glass walls, which frame selected views through the spaces.
"In places where we altered the concrete shell, we did it very deliberately, choosing contrasting, yet robust materials that amplify the difference and enhance the energy," says the architect. "The shiny yellow walls provide clear architectural clues to the layout. The internal navigation is also enhanced by other refined architectural insertions, including timber battens and pontoons, coloured ceramic tiles, and a variety of lighting techniques."
In the reception area, a slightly warmer palette and lowered ceiling creates an intimate, welcoming atmosphere.
"The energy level amps back up again once you move out into the main part of the building," says van Lent. "The effect is reinforced by vibrant furnishings and high-tech audiovisual displays."
The look continues in the changing rooms, where the showers are contained within brightly coloured tiled rooms that resemble a box within a box. Coloured laminates feature on all the lockers, ensuring that the high-energy branding continues.
Eye-catching graphics and furnishings herald the lobby of the new Les Mills Britomart gymnasium in Auckland.
Les Mills Britomart (Auckland)
Mechanical, electrical and fire engineer
WSP Lincolne Scott
WSP Lincolne Scott
Signage and branding
Origami; Rocket Signs
The Laminex Group
Woven Bamboo Enterprises
Story by Colleen Hawkes
Photography by Jamie Cobeldick