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A re-enlightened passage welcomes shoppers in Nelson, New Zealand

Case Studies, Exteriors | May 1, 2019 | By:

A business district in Nelson, New Zealand, got a new life after a creative and functional fabric roof cover was installed.

By Bruce N. Wright, AIA

In the heart of Nelson, New Zealand’s central business district, a short pedestrian passage links two busy public markets. Bank Lane, named for the major national bank that flanks one side of the passage, was until recently a dilapidated corridor with a cracked and discolored Perspex roof. The roof let in minimal natural light during the day. At sundown, the area was under-illuminated, and surrounding business owners were concerned about homeless and inebriated people who gathered in the area.

With input from a local business council and the adjoining building owners, a plan was developed to replace the roof with something brighter and more inviting. Transport & Marine Covers Ltd. (TM Covers), based in Nelson, was hired to create a waterproof and retrofitted fabric roof with colorful accents to attract the public.

A narrow barrel-arched arcade, Bank Lane is essentially a one-sided east-to-west passageway with a blank wall on the south side (Bank of New Zealand’s wall). The opposite wall is composed of several small shops—like the Blink Micro Café, the entry door to Midcity Motor Lodge and other rental offices—bookended by a fashion boutique and a photo shop at either end.

TM Covers proposed a mix of three fabrics that fit tautly between the arched steel frame ribs, alternating white solid PVC and transparent PVC for the roof, and a number of smaller colorful shade sails near the top of the arc to enliven the space. Backlighting illuminates the sails at night as well as the arched white fabric roof, lending the corridor a cheerful demeanor. Businesses have greatly benefited from the bright, safe upgrade that has attracted increased pedestrian traffic.

This project won an Award of Excellence in IFAI’s 2018 International Achievement Awards competition.

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