With an evocative facade that could represent the dappled light on a fruit vine, the new headquarters for global brand Zespri is a dynamic flagship building for overseas visitors and a forward-thinking workplace for staff

 Zespri is a New Zealand success story, exporting more than NZ$2 billion of premium-quality Kiwifruit to more than 50 countries around the world in 2019/20 – 98% of what they grow here. 

In fact, it is one of the world’s best known fresh produce brands. 

This level of renown naturally attracts many overseas visitors to The Bay of Plenty, the centre of New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry, to experience the Zespri story.

In response to this, Zespri wanted a landmark building for the Global HQ for the brand, as well as a hub for the industry. The space needed to welcome both local and international visitors, and reflect the pride and energy that staff have for the beloved local brand – all while meeting grower-shareholder needs with a design that stands out as pleasingly dramatic rather than excessively lavish and that reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability. 

And for curious visitors and proud locals, the new headquarters designed by Warren & Mahoney certainly doesn't disappoint. 

On approach, the three-level building's simple, transparent, high-performance skin dazzles the eye. Sunscreens making up the 3D skin can evoke anything from dappled light seen though a kiwifruit vine, to seabirds, or even the textured skin of the Zespri kiwifruit itself. 

The full-height double glazing is shaded by the sunscreens to control glare while louvres control heat gain – optimising comfort for the workers within while minimising power bills. 

That sense of sustainable practice/energy efficiency is also reflected in occupant sensor lighting throughout the building, rooftop solar panels, rainwater collection and water-efficient plumbing. Between the sunscreens there is a service walkway for cleaning and maintenance access.

Key elements of the facade are painted in Zespri's vibrant brand colour while the diagonal trusses seen behind the metal sunshades have an echo of the form of a mountain – a design celebrated and used independently by local Iwi, says Warren and Mahoney associate principal and interior designer on this project Asha Page.

The bold three-level head office comprises two simple forms, a solid cedar-clad rectangular element running one way, bisecting the main double-glazed building form running the other way. 

One end of the cedar element is a porte cochère large enough to accommodate a sizeable tour bus while the other end – the north wing – is used for private executive meeting spaces, hospitality, and even a show kitchen, where Zespri Kiwifruit are put through their culinary paces.

However, the relatively dark cedar 'box' also has another dramatic role to play. It is from within this condensed form that visitors emerge into the headquarters' light-filled central atrium. This soaring, quirky open space is the antithesis of the more enclosed cedar form. 

Light floods into the void from the transparent building facade and also from an angular skylight. The latter is finished with window film that, again, has the look of dappled light through the vines. The brand and, to an extent, staff essence reflected here is a sense of effervescence and fun. 

While the angular stair makes a sculptural impact zig-zagging across the void, a meeting room box and enclosed utility space box both also extend into the central airspace. Both these box elements and parts of the stairs are finished in oak – a lighter alternative to the dark cedar on the building's lower form. 

Wood was used generously on the interior to bring warmth and also to balance the generous use of colourful Zespri livery that reflects both the energy of the brand and the horticultural nature of the business. The range of the timbers used have the Environment Choice NZ tick or are FSC certified.

As well as the professional kitchen facilities in the north wing, there is a cafe off the main atrium and a viewing deck on the top floor. 

While visitors can't actually enter the upper-level work and relaxation spaces they do get a sense of their bustle and activity from below.

A best-practice Activity Based Workplace requires a forward-thinking, technology-enabled workplace. Zespri’s people now have the autonomy to choose where and how they work. 

The two upper levels are connected both horizontally and vertically, with a range of diverse spaces appropriate to different working styles. 

Asha Page – Warren and Mahoney associate principal and interior designer on this project

One of Zespri's empowering lines is 'let's make life delicious'. 

Fair to say that this colourful, exciting – even surprising – building does just that.

Credit list

Zespri Headquarters
Project team
Project architect: Bren Morrison NZIA. Project team: Asha Page, Rod Rudduck, Jeremy Opie, Ravi Solanki
Interior design
Asha Page DINZ, Warren and Mahoney
Quantity surveyor
Cedar board and batten, by Hermpac
Facade design and install
Aluminium folded twisted sun shade, by Thermosash
Lift services
Window/door joinery
Sunshade and block out, by Calley
Tretford carpet and rugs; Rondo carpet, Neoflex rubber – Advance Flooring; Shapes carpet – Signature Floors; Carpet, Desso, Shaw carpets – Jacobsens; Inzide: Vinyl, Sphera, Forbo vinyls – Inzide, all
Grid tile – Forman Armstrong Ultima; GIB plasterboard/fire linings
Pendants by Mr Ralf; Mr Fab – Custom Neon by Mr Fab; Muuto Pendant from Unison; Concrete pendant by ECC
Vidak; Rise; Retreat Booth; Huddle
Reception furniture
SOL-Sit by Zenith; Artifort Bras Armchair by UFL; Five Ottoman by Unison
Additional furniture
UFL; Unison; Kada; Harrows; Simon James Design; IMO; Statement ID
Bathroom fittings
Architects in association – on site observation
Architecture Page Henderson
Workplace strategy
Veldhoen + Company
Civil, mechanical and electrical engineer
Beca Tauranga
Fire consultant
Dimond 630, by Dimond; Enviroclad TPO, by Viking; Liquid membrane, by Sika
Glazing system
Aluminium, by Thermosash
Partitioning system
Porcelain tile, Hacienda, Retro Mosaic – Middle Earth Tile; Terrazzo – The Tile People; Porcelain Tile, Elapse – European Ceramics; Cement Tile, Dandelion Hexagonal – Marrakech Design, all from Tile Space
Autex/ Composition by Autex; Timber Veneer by Prime Panels; Fabwall by Asona
Dulux interior paint – Natural White, Pantone 3308, Custom Green, Avalanche Creek; Dulux Powdercoat – Duratec external, Duralloy internal-Hawthorne Green, Matt Appliance White, Black Ace, Grey Friars; external steel – Altex Carboline
Heating/air conditioning
Office chairs
Vidak; Mentor
Main reception desk
Fernlea Hamilton
Kitchen equipment
Skope fridges and commercial kitchen equipment; Fisher and Paykel double dishdrawers and fridges; Starline commercial dishwasher; Zenith Hydro taps, from Southern Hospitality

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