Blackwell & Sons | Before and After

It’s difficult to get a full appreciation of the transformation the former Greytown Borough Council Chambers underwent to become the new Blackwell & Sons retail experience, without seeing some comparable before and after photos. As covered in our portfolio post for this project, there were a number of challenging factors contributing to the design process for this alteration.

The below series of photos illustrate the transformational story of the former Greytown Borough Council Chambers, into a contemporary first class retail experience for Blackwell & Sons. They showcase a number of design elements and considerations, including;

  • How extensively the space has been opened up (especially when you remember that the bike bays in the “after” photos are completely mobile, rather than fixed to the floor), compared to the previously existing multi-room layout.
  • Features and materials that have been retained from the existing interior, as well as those newly specified and why these design decisions were made.

From an historical and heritage point of view, it’s interesting to note that the former Borough Council Chambers has been altered and added to multiple times since its original 1878 construction. While all alterations and additions can be considered to add to the story of a historic building, the 1980’s alterations, which mostly involved adding non-structural internal walls that established a rather cloistered feeling to the interior, were not historically significant enough to require preservation. It was an imperative heritage requirement to maintain a sense of the original 1878 layout, which meant an in-depth look into the building’s records in order to establish which walls were original and the extent of changes made throughout the building’s life. This “historical nod” has primarily been achieved by using the engineered steel portals, needed to provide structural support to the building, to outline the spaces that were originally rooms within the 1878 interior.



Before: Looking back towards the front entrance on Main Street, Greytown.



After: Looking back towards the front entrance, with street front windows now visible, on Main Street, Greytown. We can see that interior walls have been removed, and one of the steel portals outlining where an original 1878 wall stood.




Before: Viewpoint from the inside of the Main Street, Greytown entrance, looking through to the rear of the building. The staircase to the upper floor is to the right (out of shot). We get a sense of the heavily partitioned previously existing interior, with central corridor and rooms branching off on either side.



After: Looking through the store, standing in front of the staircase to the upper floor, towards the rear. This showcases the extent to which the interior layout has been opened up, creating a modern retail space. Again we can see a steel portals framing the location of a previously existing 1878 wall. In the background we can see the “display workshop”, a key architectural feature to bring the Pashley bicycle experience to life.




Before: Looking again towards the front entrance on Main Street, Greytown, angled towards the staircase to the upper floor.



After: Showing the very front entrance of the Blackwell & Sons store. We can see the beautiful original flooring, stripped of 1980’s floor coverings and lightly sanded to bring it to its full potential. The staircase has been left untouched and the original ceiling freshened in a heritage white shade. Beyond this frontal steel portal, the materials transition to darker shades in order to bring the desired “industrial workshop” ambience to the store. The elegant chandelier is also a nod to the heritage era, and both compliments and contrasts the contemporary track lighting.




Before: Looking in a southerly direction from a central point in the previously existing store. To the left of this photo (out of shot) is the front entrance, and to the right (within shot) is a small utility room. Further to the right (out of shot) is the rear of the store, leading to the rear exit.



After: Showing a similar location but from a different viewpoint, standing near the front of the Blackwell & Sons store and looking towards the rear. On the left, where the framed Pashley bicycle information sits, is where the southerly window shown in the above “before” photo is located. In order to create the “clean canvas” gallery style retail experience desired, most windows were interiorly boarded over by creating false walls to sit in front of them. In the middle-ground is the main retail counter, and signage, which sits just in front of the utility and bathroom area. One of our favourite features is the brick veneer panelling used to clad and make a background statement to this area. In the background of this image we can see the rear corridor of the store which showcases “test ride” Pashley bicycles, leading through to the rear exit.




Before: Previously existing utility room, and rear corridor. This rear area of the store was previously partitioned off from the front section with a heavy door, making the back area dark and cavernous.



After: This shot is taken standing from where the heavy green door in the above “before” photo was located, looking towards the front of the Blackwell & Sons store. The aforementioned brick veneer panel cladding wraps around from the main retail counter space, into the rear corridor, where it is complimented by darker shiplap on the ceiling (just visible at the top of this image). This image also does a great job of showcasing the steel portals throughout the store, giving a real sense of the original 1878 interior layout.




Before: The very end of the rear corridor, with rear exit.



After: A shot of the rear corridor, with rear exit on the left. Here we get to see the full marriage between the brick veneer panel cladding, dark shiplap and polished concrete floors. The mixture of these materials and textures provide both the “industrial workshop” feel, along with the durability and functionality required from this space. Here is where the “test ride” Pashley bicycles are displayed, with customers able to try out the expertly crafted merchandise with the help of friendly staff. To the right of this image (out of shot) is also additional storage space, hidden behind a large industrial metal sliding door.



We hope you’ve enjoyed this little “behind the scenes” look at this exciting commercial project, and have gained a greater understanding of the space. If you haven’t already checked out our portfolio post on this project, please do so by clicking here.

Successful completion of this project wouldn’t have been possible without the expertise of Holmes Construction Wairarapa, who communicated with us thoroughly throughout the construction process to ensure the project’s design was fully realised. Completed project photos were taken by Marshall Pitney and generously supplied to us by Holmes Construction Wairarapa. This stunning retail experience opened to customers in November 2018.