Warren and Mahoney Architects 77 isite

  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Gareth Huston, Justin Crook, Keri Drecki, Eliot Blenkarne, Helena Feng, Leely Kuh, Jayson Urlich, Amiria Reid, Madalena Refiti
  • Client
    Tourism New Zealand

Our task was to create a future evolution of the isite network that would connect our manuhiri to Aotearoa in a meaningful way. We aimed to enhance the experience for all manuhiri by providing a consistent national experience that also resonates with local communities. As the trusted provider of visitor information and booking services in New Zealand, isite offers independent advice based on deep knowledge, local expertise, and shared values.

We had to address several key requirements, including conveying design intent, showcasing future network opportunities, highlighting the project narrative and process, and spatial flexibility to stakeholders such as Tourism New Zealand, local operators, councils and partners.

Our core concept, 'the gateway to our place,' encapsulated the project's essence, positioning each site as a gateway to Aotearoa, the region, and the tourism industry. An invitation to explore, experience, and understand more while adhering to our tiaki promise of responsible travel. By executing isite as 'The Gateway,' we aimed to strengthen the brand's connection with our visitors, cultural identity, unique contexts, and improve commercial outcomes through elevated experiences. Additionally, this project paves the way for a more sustainable future and safer travel practices.

To ensure the gateway concept applies to various locations across the network, we adopted a strategy of minimalism, allowing the space to recede into the background. By using cost-effective materials and creating a blank canvas, we highlight the elements that truly matter. Transforming information into localised inspiration requires a new approach to display. We concentrated our attention and investment on a modular framework that encompasses all functions of the space, including customer service, retail, bookings, reservations, hosting, and community engagement. Rather than focusing on the individual spaces, our design story emphasises the unique regional locations they occupy.

To communicate this vision, we took the flexible framework system out of the traditional shop context and placed it within the natural landscapes of Aotearoa, using captured photography and digital visualisation tools. Each visual showcases how the framework configuration responds to the environment, whether it's a guided pathway through a forest hiking track, a service counter carved out of boulders in Castle Hill, picture frames capturing scenes from the Queenstown region, or modular storage and display blocks washed up on the West Coast. These images create a visual pepeha, connecting the design to Aotearoa's sense of place through its ocean, landscape and sky. We also incorporated a tailored ceiling feature for each site to further capture this story.

In addition to the narrative, our process aimed to showcase the functional flexibility, range of configurations, and components of the system. Isometric diagrams, devoid of materiality, highlight the simplicity and buildability of the design, demonstrating its value and longevity.

Lastly, our spatial design communication brings everything together, focusing on network design outcomes rather than specific store locations. We created a large open gallery-like space that highlights the framework's cohesiveness and flexibility. The visuals demonstrate the journey pathways for our manuhiri, categorise inspiration and products, and showcase the materiality inspired by Aotearoa's natural environments.