Open to Experience

The Giltrap Group’s recently completed building at 119 Great North Road in Grey Lynn, Auckland is a stunning showcase for the equally compelling automotive brands within.

The Giltrap Group brief to architectural firm Warren and Mahoney was for a spectacular new building to showcase three premium brands – Aston Martin, Bentley and Lamborghini – and to reinforce its positioning at the forefront of the end-to-end car sales experience.

The design process was guided by Giltrap’s premise of “investment in enhanced engineering and innovation through better design”, and as such a number of innovative design solutions were realised. 

Composed of three large glass-enclosed display areas, each offering recognisable links and identifiers with the marques on display, the building also incorporates offices above, while below lie four levels of dedicated car storage and servicing. 

 “At ground level the Giltrap Group building utterly breaks the mold for what is expected from an automotive dealership,” says Warren and Mahoney Project Principal, Jonathan Hewlett. 

“When you arrive, as a customer you drive into the building itself, which creates immediate engagement with the products you’re there to see or discuss. This generally isn’t the norm in the automotive industry; it’s usually more akin to a storefront retail environment. 

Michael Giltrap, Group Joint Managing Director, says the completed design was way beyond what the company had ever anticipated. 

“We had high expectations, but we were blown away by it,” he says. 

“It’s a great place for customers. Warren and Mahoney has produced a design which perfectly showcases some of the world’s most beautiful cars. At the same time, it is the most technologically impressive and environmentally friendly building of its type in the country.” 

The 119 Geat North Road building is the first building of its type to achieve a 5-star Green Star Design rating. The Giltrap Group has worked closely with the New Zealand Green Building Council to develop a custom tool tailored to the mix of uses within the project. 

At the core of the structure is a double-storey in-situ concrete truss that was developed to ensure a completely free glazed street frontage. Resisting both gravity and lateral loading, the truss visually connects the mixed-use building’s nine floors. 

Internally, the building faced another issue – the very low height clearance of the cars and the practical length of the site to provide adequate vertical ramp transitions. To address this, a curved ramp, set out to align with a sine wave curve, was designed in order to connect each floor. Continuing the theme of innovation through better design, and to respond to Giltrap’s intention to maximise the space for their star-cars.  

The challenge for the Warren and Mahoney team was balancing the practical with the beautiful, as well as keeping overriding corporate identity firmly in mind. 

“The Giltrap Group was our client on this project but each vehicle brand on show has its own identity. The cars are on show, but the environment is interactive and welcoming,” says Jonathan. 

Beyond the obvious details, 119 Great North Road is a cleverly designed building underneath the surface too.  

As Barrington Gohns, Project Team Lead for the Great North Road building, explains, the idea that exotic and prestige cars would be moving about in what is a relatively confined space, was also a major consideration. 

“There is a pretty intense logistical ballet at work within the building on any given day. You have the movements of vehicles for display, customer vehicles arriving and departing, as well as other vehicles moving between customer parking and, say, the service area. 

“All of these interactions had to be taken into account. The ideal is that a vehicle can potentially go through all of these different phases or movements without once having to leave the actual building,” he says. 

Warren and Mahoney worked with the Giltrap Group and lighting experts Targetti New Zealand to engineer a unique, all-in-one service fixture – reticulating the primary lighting, sprinkler and electrical systems.  

This bespoke feature, coined the ‘X1’, was designed to mirror the beauty and simplicity of services reticulation seen in that of the service engineering underneath the hood of a car. 

“The customer experience continues right through to the service areas too,” continues Jonathan. 

“These areas are on-show to visitors, brightly lit and look more like surgical theatres than what many might expect a workshop environment to look like. There are more private spaces for discussion and hand-over within the building, but for the most part, everything is open and visitors are encouraged to explore. 

“The customer journey was a primary focus though,” he concludes. 

“The entire experience at 119 Great North Road is all about servicing the customer’s needs. It has been designed in part as a very neutral space, but also as an entrée into the world of those car brands and the Giltrap Group itself.” 

Warren and Mahoney worked with the Giltrap Group and lighting experts Targetti New Zealand to engineer a unique, all-in-one service fixture – reticulating the primary lighting, sprinkler and electrical systems.  

This bespoke feature, coined the ‘X1’, was designed to mirror the beauty and simplicity of services reticulation seen in that of the service engineering underneath the hood of a car. 

“The customer experience continues right through to the service areas too,” continues Jonathan. 

“These areas are on-show to visitors, brightly lit and look more like surgical theatres than what many might expect a workshop environment to look like. There are more private spaces for discussion and hand-over within the building, but for the most part, everything is open and visitors are encouraged to explore. 

“The customer journey was a primary focus though,” he concludes. 

“The entire experience at 119 Great North Road is all about servicing the customer’s needs. It has been designed in part as a very neutral space, but also as an entrée into the world of those car brands and the Giltrap Group itself.” 

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