14: Better Paint Jobs


What if heritage buildings had better colour schemes that enhanced their rich detail?

There seems to be a thing at the moment where every time an older building is refurbished or just repainted, the modernising thing to do is to just ‘greywash’ or ‘beigewash’ the old facades. Perhaps this is a reaction to that earlier period in the 90s where every old building was being decked out in Tuscan terracotta and cypress green or gaudy and clownish schemes like aubergine and orange.

But the current fad often does nothing for the heavily ornamented facades of these old piles which is I suspect the thing most people like about them as they move about the city.

Included here are a few pics of the good, the bad and the ugly to show what I mean.

Britomart is a great case study in doing it well. Cooper and Co with their refurbishment a few years back of the old Stanbeth and Excelsior Houses on Customs Street. As I recall when the renovations were first complete they were in a fairy neutral cream colour scheme. It was a while later that they came back and put the aqua,  maroon and gilt gold highlights that really make this frontage sing. We could do with more of this.

1)    The bad: Before and Afters of the old Queenshead Hotel façade (Image credit: Craig https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigsyd))

The Bad

2)    The ugly: Recent paint job on Victoria Street West (image by Stuart)

The Ugly

3)    The good: Stanbeth and Excelsior Houses, Britomart (Image credit: Craig https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigsyd))
The Good

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    1. Funny actually thought the white paint job on queens head was an improvement on what was there before. Ties in with the building better. Could maybe do with a bit of colour.

  1. Napier is a reasonable example of a city embracing the idea of colour and detail. Admittedly most in art-deco pastels, but certainly better than we’ve managed in Auckland.

  2. I personally find the white paint on the Queenheads Hotel inspired. Love how the stark whiteness of the building bring about a certain gracefulness not seen in most modern buildings.

    The original brick-and-white colour is so mediocre I never actually noticed the facade for the past 8 years I’ve lived here until the recent transformation.

  3. We don’t tend to do white or other bold colours, because the paint goes grimy in the Auckland rain reasonably quickly. What will help is regular cleaning and occasional repainting. It’s a cost, but one that adds to the value of a building, particularly if it makes that building distinctive and desirable.

    Reduced emissions from traffic should also help a little, and in the inner city this depends on the motorway and on bus diesel particulates.

    1. Good comment..unfortunately we have a lot of pollution to hide.
      K Road has some great examples of heritage building colours using a darker theme.
      You can’t even see the Queen’s head relief on the Queens Head Hotel.

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