The Auckland Hotel That’ll Change Your Perception Of Eco-Friendly
The newest addition to Auckland’s skyline is set to leave a big mark but the lightest of footprints. In what goes far beyond simply asking guests to reuse their towels, The Hotel Britomart has been given a prestigious 5-Green-Star Design rating, making it New Zealand’s most eco-friendly hotel and somewhere the conscious traveller can sleep easy (on longer-lasting organic cotton sheets that is).
Renowned for its cutting-edge restaurants and retail, Auckland’s downtown waterfront prescient, Britomart, will soon have another drawcard – and reason to stay a little longer – with the completion of its very own hotel in mid-2020. The Hotel Britomart, comprised of ten-storeys, 99 rooms and five rooftop suites, holds an environmental status that’s a first of its kind in New Zealand and one that Britomart’s Development Director, Campbell Williamson, is thrilled to bring to the table.
“Sustainability has always been part of the Britomart ethos,” he says. “Travellers increasingly want to stay where there is a demonstrated commitment to sustainability beyond asking the guests to reuse their towels. Building sustainably has a much lower immediate and ongoing environmental impact and the earth needs that from us.”
Several key ‘green-factors’ issued by the New Zealand Green Building Council warrant the hotel’s status. Energy use and conservation has been carefully considered with insulation, double-glazing, building orientation and window placement. Internally, the use of LED lighting, low-flow water systems and low or zero-emission materials and fabrics that will last longer also help create a minimal footprint.
Williamson says a conscious decision was made early in conceptual stages to not “overdo” the dedication of space within the hotel to extensive facilities like in-house restaurants, an oversized lobby or a large gym because of the already incredibly high standard of shops and eateries within reach across the Britomart precinct.
“Every facility a guest could want will be right at the front door of the hotel and they will be able to use them in the same way they would expect to use in-house facilities. So, if guests want to order breakfast in their room from Amano, or do a circuit at Les Mills, we already have it all.
“Taking this approach has allowed us to dedicate as much space as possible to rooms, which is a really efficient way of using space,” Williamson says.
The hotel stands right at the heart of Auckland’s public transport network and having easy access to bus, train and ferry services plays a big part in making travel more sustainable in general, Williamson says. Accommodated in the hotel design is bicycle storage where two wheels will be available to guests as they explore their surrounds.
The handmade brick exterior with flush glazed windows designed by Cheshire Architects is contemporary while still being respectful to its surrounding neighbourhood dwellings, many of which are heritage buildings with a 140-year age difference. In fact, construction process has included refurbishing two adjoining buildings of heritage-status and creating a new public laneway that will skirt the hotel, linking to new restaurants in nearby buildings and providing a refreshed and reenergised vibe to the city that will be unsuspecting even to locals.
The pairing of modern textiles with traditional elements was a well thought out decision, architect Nat Cheshire says, with the choice of brick for the hotel exterior a nod to the look and feel of other buildings in the prescient – modern eateries and retail spaces breathing new life into the city’s original and once-abandoned warehouses.
“The trick has been to take that almost archetypal building material and to jump it forward into the 21st Century so it feels like it belongs to this time but is leading somewhere new,” Cheshire says.
Follow the paved lobby reflective of the urban and contemporary vibe of the surrounding city streets and take the lift to the light-filled corridor that leads to the native timber-lined rooms including the elegantly minimal rooftop suites. Removed from the buzzing energy below, rooms are described as “soulful and smart” and have the feel of a cabin retreat that oozes simple sophistication with the luxury of tactile materials.
No stone has been left unturned in the meticulous planning of the hotel; it’s been years in the making and a vision that Cheshire has seen blossom from initial concepts on paper to a bricks-and-mortar establishment. Hand-made ceramics by local artisans inject personality and warmth into each room which Cheshire likens to staying in the beautiful apartment of a generous friend who has shared the keys to Auckland city.
“Hotels are incredibly romantic. They’re the carriers and amplifiers of the ideology of the place they’re in; great hotels are in part the physical and experiential manifestation of our values and hopes for ourselves,” he says.
(All images: The Hotel Britomart / supplied)
Published 06 January, 2020