Despite losing several days from the construction programme because of heavy snow and some severe weather, the building that houses the new Queenstown Motor Group dealership was completed in just four and a half months.
Developed for Kenton Investments Ltd, the building puts three top brands on display — Audi, Volkswagen and Subaru — in a 765 sq m showroom. The building also has advanced technical workshop and servicing facilities.
It’s located on Hawethorn Drive at the gateway to Remarkables Park. The stunning backdrop of the mountains inspired architect David Stringer to articulate their uplift in three distinctive, staggered roof planes.
“The three unique forms also provide the opportunity for branding differentiation,” Mr Stringer says.
“In response to the brief, we adopted an exposed and expressed structural approach, as this could be achieved with long, column-free spans of steel, and would ensure speedy erection. I kept landscaping to a minimum so as not to impede clear viewing of the vehicles.
“Combining steel, glass and pre-cast concrete gave us the sleek lines and surface finishes that reflect those of the motor industry. These can be experienced at a more intimate level in the showroom.
“This is the showcase side of the dealership, but the parts and servicing zones are housed in a steel spine with an exposed aggregate pre-cast panel structure and stained cedar battens,” Mr Stringer says.
“An insulated concrete slab stores heat from the sun, while under-floor heating provides a welcome winter boost. In summer, the large eaves, the use of high-tech motorised louvres and insulated roofing panels provide shade and natural ventilation.”
Engineer Bernard Whitham says the steel structure was designed as free-standing frames erected on pocket foundation bases.
“This was to meet the architectural requirements of the different roof pitches and to maximise the sales floor area,” Mr Whitham says.
“Except for the central portal frame, consisting of 610UBs as columns and 310UBs as purlins to do most of the work, we mainly specified Circular Hollow Sections (CHSs). These work in all directions and afford better sight lines than the UBs.
“There are eight in the main showroom floor and two outside. Once they were all grouted into position in the pocket footings, completion of the roof was given priority so that other work could continue in all-weather conditions,” Mr Whitham says.
“The 125mm slab was actually poured in winter under cover of the roof. The pre-cast panels were installed with props and supported from the steel roofing structure. This method resulted in rapid progress against the tight construction programme.”
The main contractor was Rilean Construction Ltd, whose senior project manager, Trevor Meikle, praised the teamwork of the subcontractors.
“The cooperation between the architect and the engineer played a major part in beating the deadline, which was to be open for business before Christmas 2011,” Mr Meikle says.
“Steel constructor Ede Engineering Ltd was never seriously challenged. Commenting on the unique design, Nigel Ede says virtually nothing was square!
“Nevertheless, it went together extremely well. Our drawing office produced a 3-D model to make sure we avoided clashes in our fabrication,” Mr Ede says.
“So when it came to erection, we’d already made certain there would be no hitches and delays in the 40 tonnes we had to put up.”
Kenton Investments Ltd project director Pat Cummings says the reaction of locals to the project has been positive. His brother Ken, managing director of the Queenstown Motor Group, was delighted when sales were being made within the first two hours of opening.
But there can be no doubt that the wow factor and good kharma feel that the Queenstown folks talk about emanates from architect David Stringer.
“The interior designer Sue Nauman and I specified Everrol for the interior wall cladding. Normally it’s used in flooring, but being made from recycled rubber it has good acoustic properties,” Mr Stringer says.
“We designed in-slab floor heating for the winter months, drawing temperature from the boiler unit in the technical area. We also extended this out to the exterior areas so that frosting is prevented — a touch of customer care.”
Queenstown’s latest showcase was completed by the deadline and within the budget. And the word is that the Remarkables look down upon it — but approve.