The project was the development of two neighbouring heritage-listed (HNZ and Akl City) buildings, Nathan Building (1903) and Australis House (1904), into premium office and retail space. This required subtle, inventive design using modern materials sympathetic to the
heritage fabric.


Cooper and Company


Customs Street East

Completion Date

December 2016


2017 NZIA – Regional – Heritage Award

2017 Property Council NZ – Heritage and Adaptive Uses – Best in Category

2017 Property Council NZ – Commercial Office Property Award – Merit

2017 NZIA – National – Commercial Architecture

2014 NZSEE – Earthquake Strengthening – Highly Commended

The Client required a new ‘front’ to Takutai Square that complemented the buildings’ rich Customs Street facades. We surveyed and ‘sampled’ the Customs Street Victorian façade and applied the pattern using a lime plaster ‘sgraffito’. Heritage research revealed that Australis House had an original natural plaster finish, so the existing paint was removed prior to application of the sgraffito.  The treatment of the adjacent brick Nathan Building was undertaken per accepted heritage techniques as a conscious counterpoint.

Importantly, the approach was developed with the full support of Heritage New Zealand and Auckland Council heritage officers. We suggest these innovations contribute to a progressive conversation regarding our built heritage.

Working with master plasterers, Colin and Matt MacKenzie, we cut templates from our CAD files of the façade treatment, then trialled the sgraffito in their workshop using a lime-based plaster developed with Mapei.