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Kingsgate shopping mall by Design Engineers

Developer: Equity Trustee
Architect: Buchan Group
Contractor: Naylor Love Construction
Location: Hutt Centre, Wellington
Service Type: Facade Engineering

Queensgate Shopping Centre in Lower Hutt suffered substantial damage in the 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes. One part of the centre was damaged beyond repair, but the rest could be retained and strengthened. Naylor Love were selected as the preconstruction partner and went on to deliver the strengthening and new build. The key elements of the project were: Demolition of the multilevel car park and cinema. Construction of a new multilevel car park and cinema complex. Repair and upgrade of the balance of the shopping centre. One of the main drivers for the work was that the shopping centre needed to stay open throughout. Planned the works to ensure there was a little impact as possible on the multiple tenants and mall users, which meant managing vehicle and pedestrian traffic flows, managing security, and completing disruptive work at night. The centrepiece of the strengthening in the main concourse was the movement joint we created by means of a Tectonus Resilient Slip Friction Joint system, separating the lightweight roof structure of the concourse from the heavier cinema lobby above to protect it from being overloaded during a large seismic event. The car park building has a deep raft foundation requiring concrete pours of up to 1,000m3 at a time. A great deal of detailed planning and coordination was required to ensure there were enough trucks available for these pours. This was a highly technical build with multiple active workfaces and two tower cranes on site for several years, all on a busy corner site in central Lower Hutt. Both the preconstruction element and the building works kept our engineering, services, construction and cost planning team busy as we endeavoured to find best-for-project solutions. An important hub for the Lower Hutt community, Queensgate Shopping Centre was identified as earthquake prone following the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016. The redesign and rebuild of the north-eastern corner of the centre, along with the car park, provided an opportunity to upgrade the external facade with refreshed aesthetic. 

Much of that aesthetic took inspiration from the nearby Hutt River, which influenced both the design and material selection. Balancing commercial needs with the desire to root the design in the local environment, the design was distinct without looking out of place. It also managed to complement the existing building whilst setting the scene for future expansion and development. Solaris rectangular louvre blades, in varying profiles, were used to establish the standout visual element of the facade. The letter 'Q' is large without being garish or overpowering, the long tail of the letter tracing a route across the louvre blades. This effect is produced by the louvre blades featuring a precisely cut section which, when arranged in order, produce a seamless transition from blade to blade to form the letter. 

To hide the fire egress stairs to the car park, a mesh screening featuring a custom pattern was fabricated in screens 8,500mm wide by 14,000mm high. Planter boxes attached to the outside of these screens are to house creeping plants which will make their way up and across the mesh screening, eventually producing a living wall to add texture and natural colours to the facade. The rebuild, now complete, has repositioned the Queensgate Shopping Centre for the future. It's destined to grow its role as a community hub that adds value to the local area, a much-needed destination for commerce and entertainment for locals and visitors alike. 

We collaborate closely with Insol, offering specialized engineering support for the design of exterior louver facades. Our involvement includes conducting detailed engineering verification for louvre blades, brackets, and connections, employing sound engineering judgment to ensure structural integrity. In the meticulous review of shop drawings, we provide comprehensive engineering advice to guarantee that the louvre design not only meets but exceeds standards for structural safety and durability. Our commitment extends to ensuring the longevity of the louvres, with a focus on achieving a durability threshold of 50 years. Through our rigorous engineering expertise, we contribute to the creation of an exterior louvre facade that not only meets aesthetic and functional requirements but also stands the test of time with unwavering structural robustness.


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Design Engineers are Chartered Professional Engineers
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