A Design Tour of Wellington

By Melinda Williams
Beth Cameron and Jae Warrander of Makers of Architecture. Picture / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

Beth Cameron and Jae Warrander are two of the most modern young thinkers in New Zealand architecture. As principals of Makers of Architecture, a practice that works in sync with Makers Fabrication, they work sensitively with new design-and-build technologies such as computer-driven cutting and cross-laminated timber to create better, more beautiful buildings.

We asked them to walk us through the cafes, bars, stores, and galleries in Wellington that deserve the attention of lovers of design.

Wellington Sourdough
This little bakery is discreetly hidden along Left Bank arcade off Cuba Mall. Fresh white paint brightens the exterior entrance in what was previously a dark alley. Designed and fitted out by Proffer, the bakery sits within an industrial concrete shell. Timber fit-out frames the interior workings of the space, while the marble counter and open timber bread rack allow a glimpse into the kitchen behind.
— Left Bank Lane, CBD

Kowtow's new flagship store in Wellington's CBD. Picture / Supplied
Kowtow's new flagship store in Wellington's CBD. Picture / Supplied

The newly opened Kowtow flagship store showcases the brand experience. We (Makers) collaborated with Rufus Knight to design the store, reflecting Kowtow's brand ethics; utilising quality hand-crafted, locally sourced, recycled and sustainably harvested materials. Simplicity and generosity anchor the store's design and speak to the brand ethos.
— 29 College St, CBD

Ekor Bookshop & Cafe
Ekor provides a comfortable coffee break, with a diverse range of books to browse and buy. Located on the increasingly bustling College St, the tables and chairs are nestled in pocket spaces creating areas for patrons to connect with one another.
— 17 College St, Te Aro

With a narrow, understated frontage on Cuba St, the restaurant's long space runs through to connect with Swan Lane behind, allowing the restaurant to be divided with steel and timber into a series of intimate spatial zones. Designed by Parsonson Architects, the warmly lit and locally furnished space exposes stripped-back elements of the original building, celebrating its structural rhythm throughout.
— 181 Cuba St, Te Aro

Taranaki Jump Platform
The Taranaki Jump Platform's sculptural steel staircase weaves and twists up and over itself to provide a daring public diving platform. Designed by Wraight & Associates, the platform sits over a perceptively discreet opening contained within the centre of the wharf. The exposed structure brings dynamic and theatrical activity to the waterfront, it's a bold summertime spectacle.
— Taranaki St, Wellington waterfront

City Gallery
Generous in its stripped-back proportions and layout, the gallery engages two levels of defined spaces. The 2009 alteration by Architecture Plus extended the gallery with subtlety, while clear identification and acknowledgement of the alteration was expressed through material demarcation and light composition. The alteration can be enjoyed from within the gallery, on ground level at the sunken Adam Auditorium and on the first-level two gallery spaces, while the clean exterior volume is clad in rusted metal webgrate, texturally soft when viewed from a distance.
— 101 Wakefield St, Wellington

Ekor Bookshop & Cafe; City Gallery. Picture / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas
Ekor Bookshop & Cafe; City Gallery. Picture / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

Old Bank Arcade
Designed by Thomas Turnbull & Son, this historically significant shopping arcade demonstrates beautiful Victorian & Classical architectural detailing throughout. The bank vaults are worth a visit to uncover the rich historic stories founded within.
— Cnr Willis St and Lambton Quay, CBD

The Black Sparrow
Designed by Designgroup Stapleton Elliot, the tunnelled entrance ramps down from the established Embassy Theatre foyer, opening up to a cave-like lounge bar. Low lit and softly furnished with highlights of gold opulence, the Black Sparrow Lounge evokes evening comfort in pre-film anticipation.
— 10 Majoribanks St, Mt Victoria

Lombard Lane
Newly developed and designed by Jasmax, Lombard Lane has enabled a series of new retail premises to open while some existing premises, such as the secluded Lamason Brew Bar (focused on the art of coffee brewing) maintain a sense of establishment and permanence within the laneway. A landscaped knoll marks the intersection of Lombard Lane and Denton Park, providing a grassy green carpeted environment.

Lonely presents a progressive journey of spatial thresholds, between its public street front and protected interior. Designed by Rufus Knight, the store brings together a tactile palette of soft textural and reflective materials, interjected with luxury furnishings to bring a sense of warmth and comfort to the retail experience.
— 104 Victoria St, Wellington

Space Yoga Studio
Space Studio provides an elevated retreat-like experience, with projected panoramic views over Wellington Harbour. Designed by Tennent Brown Architects, the recently completed yoga studio is near the top of Mt Victoria on Lookout Rd. It provides a welcome disconnect from the inner city — soft colours, natural timbers and light filter through the ppurpose-builtspace, creating a high-quality relaxing atmosphere.
— 8 Lookout Rd, Roseneath

Adam Art Gallery
Victoria University's Adam Art Gallery is a beautiful and established contemporary art gallery, showcasing New Zealand works. Designed by Athfield Architects, the intersecting volumetric exhibition spaces are connected via the central cascading stair, an adaptation of the historic Culliford Stair that was used to move between buildings in the campus prior to the gallery's construction. The diversity in spatial conditions, moving between double, triple height and smaller, more enclosed intimate spaces presents a dynamic setting for a large variety of works to be experienced and celebrated within
the gallery.
— Gate 3, Victoria University, Kelburn Parade

Hoping to take a little piece of Wellington home with you? Try one of these design and interiors stores that are full of beautiful homewares, furniture and art pieces.

Precinct 35
This clean, Japanese-styled space hosts a selection of modern, handmade artisan furniture and objects from local makers such as Ryder Jones, Klay, Walk in the Park and Kirsten Dryburgh and international brands including New York's Good Thing, PostalCo and Iris Hantverk.
— 35 Ghuznee St

Precinct 35. Picture / Supplied
Precinct 35. Picture / Supplied

Backhouse Interiors
A third-generation company, Backhouse started as a bespoke furniture manufacturer in Porirua, and today also represents high-end, international design brands such as Kartell, Norman Copenhagen and Stellar Works, as well as New Zealand designers, including the legendary David Trubridge and Well-Groomed Fox.
— 12 Kaiwharawhara Rd, Kaiwharawhaura

There's something here for every design lover, from the smallest (Wilson & Frenchy bibs, graphic science wall charts) to the oldest (Tea Pea's own modern rattan Clementine Rocking Chair). A soft, millennial-modern aesthetic prevails here, with plenty of pastels paired with Scandinavian lines, snuggly throws and cushions and quirky accessories.
— 1 Grey St, CBD and 22 Ganges Rd, Khandallah

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