Bringing sophistication to an iconic space: Honda North Shore

Bringing sophistication to an iconic space: Honda North Shore

The team at Datum have worked with Honda New Zealand on refurbishing several of their showrooms in Auckland and across the country. But the newly renovated North Shore space was a particularly special project. Being a prominent building in Wairau Park (taking up nearly a whole block and known for its iconic pyramid-like shape!), the space needed to live up to its location. Having been mostly untouched in the past 30 years, it was also in need of a fair amount of TLC.

Managing Director of Honda New Zealand, Nobuya Sonoda, wanted the space to encapsulate 5-star hotel luxury and sleek Scandinavian design – so how do you bring that to a tired old building?

A design to welcome customers

Honda knew that customers like to feel welcome, to be treated well, and to enter a nice environment – because a new car is a big purchase! They also wanted to move away from the traditional showroom to an integrated space for their team and for customers, including those coming in for a service.

Honda North Shore’s new fit-out was designed using a large amount of timber, with the primary colours being red, white, and grey, along with plenty of wood. Plants were also incorporated to soften the space. Architect Mark Gascoigne and his team from Walker Commercial Architects also decided to take away the majority of hard angles and transform them into curves – including the desks.

“We brought almost all of the desks out of offices so that both the customers and the staff could see one another,” says Mark. “We wanted the whole space to feel more friendly and create an experience for people.”

The new space was designed to really make the most of what is quite an unusual space. The front of the building is raised up, with workshops underneath and showrooms and office on top.

“The 30 year old building really needed a bit of a lift to live up to its great location,” says Mark. “The space was designed to be a whole lot cleaner looking and more sophisticated, as well as repairing many aspects in need of some attention.”

A fit-out with a tight deadline

It just so happened that the store’s renovation would coincide with Honda’s new car launch, and the space needed to be finished to a precise deadline to showcase the awesome new Honda Jazz models. Enter Datum Projects.

“I was first introduced to the Datum team back in 2017 and we’ve worked with them extensively since, so it was a given to have them involved in the North Shore project,” says Frances Fan, Honda’s National Sales Development Manager.

The team at Honda were happy to not put the project out for tender, and had the Datum team on board right from the beginning. Having helped transform Honda’s other showrooms, we were familiar with their ideas and way of working. At the beginning of the project, the Datum Project leads sat down with the Honda team and Mark to talk through the process. Together, we managed to nail ways Honda could get their 5-star luxury design on a reasonably tight budget.

Then, we could get to work. The Datum team replaced all the floor tiles, did all new painting, installed air-con and other automated systems, and supplied and installed the space’s joinery – including all the desks, the banquette seating, and the coffee station. The team also helped in updating the fabric of the building, including updating the tarmac in the carpark, waterproofing the space to make it weather tight, and repairing the roof and gutters.

A big challenge with the renovation was the showroom had to remain open throughout the build. To maintain a Certificate of Public Use, we had to work closely with the Honda team to ensure that parts of the building remained sectioned off for the safety of staff and customers.

Then there was the biggest challenge of all – a very tight deadline. The space’s interior had to be ready by the 1st May, and when renovations properly began on the 1st April, it was a very busy month to create the stunning space.

“Renovations never go easy, and it’s always quite stressful – Adrian and I joke that we need life insurance for this line of work!”, says Frances. “In dealing with council approval and delayed furniture supply, all involved had to work really hard to meet the deadline.”

Creating a space for all to enjoy

Since the renovated showroom has opened, customers have been blown away. Stepping into what feels like a hotel lobby, plenty of customers have shared a ‘wow’ moment.

The space has been designed to be classy, but not overly flashy, meaning customers are comfortable enjoying a coffee or working with the wi-fi while viewing the new Honda models or waiting for their WoF or service. The whole complex is now a whole lot tidier from top to toe, with updated signage around the new entryway and even the downstairs staff, service and delivery bay areas receiving a revamp.

“Now, when customers go to pick up their brand new car, they are greeted by a beautiful modern space,” says Mark. “It really adds that sense of occasion back into purchasing a car.”

Renovating a commercial space isn’t only about making the space a welcome place for customers, but also about creating a work environment that employees love to work in. As part of the renovation, a new staff room was created which brought all staff together, as well as new toilets and a dedicated training area for staff. The customers might never see that part of a building, but it all counts in creating an incredible space for staff and visitors alike.

“The sales team have remarked how nice it is to come to work in such a great environment,” says Frances. “Which is important as we wanted a space that’s enjoyable to work in as well as create a stunning impression for customers.”

Pride in a great renovation

We always love working with the team at Honda to transform their spaces, and the North Shore showroom was no exception. Seeing the showroom being transformed to a new, high-end, sophisticated space was incredible, and it’s always a healthy challenge for the Datum team to work to such a tight deadline.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of busy projects, it’s always nice to form strong working relationships and to work with friendly, caring people – and it’s also nice to know those feelings are reciprocated.

“Ultimately, I know we at Honda feel very lucky to work with Datum and to be able to trust them completely,” says Frances. “They never miss their promises, are great at monitoring the budget, and are great communicators throughout the project – not to mention Adrian is my lifesaver!”