Dunedin firms have hand in Van Brandenburg's China project

A bronze door handle made by Giltech Precision Casting for Architecture van Brandenburg's Marisfrolg building in Shenzhen, China. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Giltech Precision Casting machine molder David Dickie holds a bronze door handle made for Architecture van Brandenburg's Marisfrolg building in Shenzhen, China. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin businesses are developing an international reach as the skills of their tradespeople embellish a locally designed building being under construction in China.

Four businesses have products on the Architecture Van Brandenburg-designed Marisfrolg building in Shenzhen.

Damien van Brandenburg said from China this week the collaborations with the architecture firm showed Dunedin's strength as a city from which to base international projects.

The businesses have provided everything from tile prototypes to door handles for the building.

The Van Brandenburg-designed building under construction in Shenzhen. Photos: Supplied
The Van Brandenburg-designed building under construction in Shenzhen. Photos: Supplied
Mr van Brandenburg said the company needed the resources, and was fortunate to have the companies in Dunedin that could provide the services.

''All of them have delivered at such a high level, it's been perfectly suitable for what we're wanting to do.

''It's just an example of how Dunedin is such a great city to operate out of, to do business internationally.

''It's a city that's a size we can get everything we need in terms of resources without being caught out with big city issues, such as sitting in traffic for hours.''

The building - the 120,000sqm headquarters of Marisfrolg, one of China's leading high-end fashion labels - was 75% built.

Tiles designed by Port Chalmers ceramicist Tina Grubba.
Tiles designed by Port Chalmers ceramicist Tina Grubba.
Giltech Precision Castings technical manager Robin Nyhof said his company had produced three different types of door handles for the building.

While the contract was not high volume, it was ''relatively high value because of the amount of finishing required''.

''Everybody likes to be involved in something new that looks flash.''

Elise Johnston, of Three Cups of Tea ceramics, said Architecture Van Brandenburg wanted some unusually shaped window surrounds for the building, which were made using plaster moulds from 3-D prints.

Grille designed by Farra Engineering on the Marisfrolg building.
Grille designed by Farra Engineering on the Marisfrolg building.
The work was done in a short timeframe, and the ceramics were ''practically still warm when Damien took them with him to China to install them''.

For the small-scale ceramics firm it was ''fantastic to be involved ... we were absolutely stoked.''

Window surround made by ceramics company Three Cups of Tea.
Window surround made by ceramics company Three Cups of Tea.
Farra Engineering chief executive Gareth Evans said his company developed small parts for the building, including grilles and components used in the roof.

The company did not manufacture the parts - they were made in China.

''We do a lot of the prototyping and proof of concept and component development.

While it was a smaller job financially, it was creative work, and supported a local designer.''

Port Chalmers ceramicist Tina Grubba said she was approached to make prototypes of tiles for the building.

There was a period of collaboration while options for the triangular terracotta tiles were explored and tried.

They were sent to China, returned, and ''tweaked till we got them right''.

There were thousands of copies of the tiles on the building.

The job, ''for a change'' earned her a reasonable hourly rate for her work.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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