New Zealand’s Auckland Blues rugby team now play in an impressive new stadium featuring a 3D façade in the team’s colours, writes Joe Simpson.

Beyond the striking architectural aesthetic, the design of the stadium is also durable and easy to clean. That is because the façade was formed using porcelain tiles manufactured by the Italian-based Gigacer company. The Auckland Blues chose Light Gesso, together with Krea Blue, in different sizes to be installed on pre-built concrete volumes.

All the slabs were cut to size by Gigacer so that they could be simply installed on the façade like the pieces of a puzzle. To facilitate and speed up the work, all the elements arrived on site numbered according to the drawings and ready to be installed.

Gigacer’s Krea range offers eight colours that interpret cement and coloured resin in a modern way. It allows the use of bright colours and bold shades both in residential and in public projects, thanks to the high technical characteristics of the unglazed porcelain stoneware. All the colours are obtained by pressing powders and raw materials in a single body, allowing the product to withstand high traffic in public places.

The surface structure, in both 4.8 mm and 12mm thickness, is the same as in Concrete range. So it is, possible to combine the two ranges, both rectified in the same calibre, in all available formats. Each of the eight colours is available in a decorated version. The formats are 1,200 by 1,200mm, 600 by 1,200mm, 400 by 1,200mm, 600 by 600mm, and 300 by 600mm; plus 200 by 1,200mm in 4.8mm only.

Decors can be mixed in sizes, colours, and designs; providing endless design possibilities. The décor formats are 1,200 by 1,200mm, 600 by 600mm, and 150 by 150mm. There are also mosaics in 300 by 300mm and stripe mosaics in 300 by 600mm, plus special pieces.

The Light collection is an innovative system of white porcelain stoneware materials, 4.8mm thick, with five textured surfaces: Gesso, Rigato, Crespo, Scolpito and Roccia. Gesso is an extended veneer – a smooth, finely textured, pattern – that contrasts with more textured surfaces. The appearance is that of marble polished by the sea and wind, or that of a carefully crafted plaster cast. The available formats, 4.8mm thick, are 1,200 by 1,200mm, 600 by 1,200mm, 600 by 600mm, and 300 by 600mm.

Blues HQ

The purpose-built $4 million training and administrative headquarters at Alexandra Park is part of the Auckland Blues franchise’s ambitious plans.
“We aspire to be a world-class organisation, both on and off the playing field, and we need appropriate facilities for the team and all of our staff,” said Blues chairman, Tony Carter, in a statement. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition the entire Blues organisation towards achieving our long-term goals.”

The Greenlane facility has been leased from the Auckland Trotting Club for at least 15 years, bringing to an end the Blues time at Unitec in Mt Albert. And Alexandra Park’s chief executive, Dominique Dowding, is delighted with her club’s official partnership with the Super 15 rugby franchise. “Getting the Blues is another really exciting development for our club which will help sustain and grow harness racing in this wonderful and unique central Auckland location,” said Dowding.

Blues chief executive, Michael Redman, said the club looked at several alternatives before opting for Alexandra Park. “This facility will help with retention of players and recruitment,” says Redman. “The whole environment is important to players and coaches considering their futures so this can only be a good thing. The new facility is not the total solution. However, it aligns with our other investments in culture, identity and sports science,” concludes Redman.

Covering an approximate area of 1,800 square metres, the facility features a high-tech gymnasium, a prehab/rehab area, rooms for seminars, medical and physiotherapy treatment, sports science and changing rooms, a café, and offices for coaching, team management and administration.
For Alexandra Park, this news comes on top of members recently voting to support transforming part of the club’s car-park into an urban lifestyle village dubbed “223 Green Lane West” with boutique retail stores and 231 apartments coming to market in the near future.

Rugby is also not new for the area. Back in 1908, Alexandra Park, then known as Potter’s Paddock, hosted the 14th All Blacks test against the British Lions, won 29-0 by New Zealand.

Pictured: Gigacer’s Light Gesso tiles together with its Krea Blue range were used in different sizes