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Gym and location need fresh inspiration

Gym and location need fresh inspiration


L-R Irene Boles Ara Architectural Studies tutor with ‘clients’ Anne Laing and Tim Bean, looking over designs by second year students for the Grainstore in Timaru.

Tim Bean and Anne Laing travel the world inspiring others, but when it came to revitalising their own building in Timaru, the historic Grainstore, they needed some fresh ideas.

Anne turned to the Ara Institute of Canterbury Architectural Studies department for help. The request came at just the right time for second year Bachelor of Architectural Studies tutor Irene Boles. Irene was looking for clients and a practical project for her students to work on for semester 2.

A massive old brick building, currently housing a gym? Perfect!

Keen to become more accustomed with the site, the students travelled to Timaru to spend some time at 1 Heaton Street, measuring, planning and drawing the site, which has been functioning as a gym since 1990.

“Instead of having one architect with one idea, we have 18 students who are fresh, creative and they have been taught the latest in techniques and materials,” Tim says. “It has been a joy working with them, and working with that energy and vibrancy they bring. They have been really awe-inspiring and they totally got what we were talking about.”

Students completed designs for the whole building and just for the gym space, giving their clients a range of visions from the extraordinary to the very practical.

“We’ve seen some amazing ideas... there’s one where they propose a tram line built in, as the downstairs basement had existing rail tracks. Another idea was demolishing the north part of the building and building a geo dome with a floating walkway, a floating studio for yoga, a climbing wall, a green wall and a roof garden.”

Tim and Anne recently returned to Timaru after 16 years based in London, where they co-founded the Institute of Physique Management and The Hard Edge, a corporate performance programme.

But when it came to design ideas, the partners knew they needed specialist assistance.

“Our ideas are restricted to what we have seen in the industry. To be honest we want something completely different from what we have seen. We want to bring this health club and leap frog it to something of international standard.”

They have just bought back the club at No1 Heaton St in their Grainstore building along with Justin and Serena Laing (their son and daughter-in-law) and it was in much need of revitalisation.

“We’ve just come back from the global health conference in Taiwan, which reinforced our thinking about health. We find that the gym is important, but people need to be educated about staying healthy - they don’t know what they don’t know - and six months of gym workouts later, they think ‘this is not working for me’.

“So we thought the only way we are going to differentiate ourselves in Timaru is to become an education centre – a health zone.”

Tim and Anne envisage more of a wrap-around health service that extends beyond gym workouts and is inclusive of young people and the elderly.

For now they are going with an architectural design that is a practical fit out that can be accomplished without much outlay, but when the business is ready for the next step, they have all the ideas they need at their fingertips.

Irene also could not be happier with the outcome. “It has been indeed a wonderful experience all around: the students loved it, the outcomes were outstanding and the learning very precious!

We, the tutor team, have all commented on how lucky we have been to have met Tim and Anne.”


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