Tea estates are a rare horticultural phenomenon in New Zealand — all the more reason why DLA Architects would want to get the flavour just right in their design of the Zealong Tea Estate's new visitor centre and production plant near Hamilton.
With the 48-hectare, export-oriented operation run on certified organic principles, the Hamilton design practice knew that a fusion of pure and subtle elements would be desirable for "a building which would pioneer the benchmark for tea production and processing in New Zealand," according to Kirsten Crawford, of DLA.
The result was a striking building which used a material palette of crisp white painted precast and laminate cladding panels, black exposed steel and extensive glazing in both the Flushglaze commercial and Architectural Series, from Vantage Windows and Doors.
Following Zealong's lead with their organic tea philosophy, DLA Architects designed a building rich in sustainability features — rainwater harvesting, solar control, sustainable building materials and energy-efficient control systems. The result was a 3,600m² state of the art facility that includes processing, packaging, administrative and visitor spaces.
The tea plants are grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides and are hand-picked. The boutique product of New Zealand's only commercial tea grower has found a ready market in China and other parts of the world, including at Harrods in London. The idea for the plantation came to the owner, Vincent Chen, when he saw a camellia tree growing in the Waikato in 1996 and realised that tea camellias should be able to grow as well.
The Vantage window supplier was Wight Aluminium. In addition to the Flushglaze and Architectural systems used, the 100mm Shopfront suite was used on interior applications.
The builder was Foster Construction Ltd.