About the project
Type of Build: Commercial Fitout
Design: Ian Douglas & Graeme Hocking
Complexity Level: Mid-High
You can stop to ask anyone in Wellington if they know the best Jeweller available. The answer is always, The Village Goldsmith.
Location: Wellington CBD
Black Sheep Construction
The Village Goldsmith Project
A Hidden Gem
Synonymously recognised as Wellington's (even New Zealands) best bespoke jeweller, Ian Douglas is a visionary creative genius, whose creativity is never limited to just one aspect.
With a desire to create a “home away from home” for his clients, Ian embarked on a journey to provide a retail aesthetic that wasn’t just comforting for his clients, but also practical for his large team of jewellery designers.
Located in the heart of Wellingtons CBD, The Village Goldsmith is nestled in a historically recognised building that once housed the Dominion Newspaper all the way back as far as 1927.
Originally split into two separate zones in the early late 1920s, there was a brick wall that separated what needed to become the Village Goldsmiths retail showroom. Challenged with uncharted territory, Black Sheep began with the heavy task of converting what were currently 2 individual retail storefronts, into one.
As an inner-city retail store, Black Sheep had to first navigate and mitigate the disruption to not only The Village Goldsmiths operation, but also the operation of other local retailers, and commuters within the city fringe - falling in line with the expectations of not only business owners, the client, their customers, but also the local city council.
This included mapping out ways to supply the jewellers workstations (where TVGs Own Jewellery is crafted) with electricity, gas, and other necessities that were required to be “plumbed in”. This also included having to find creative ways the lower the risk of storing or supplying hazardous goods such as propane onsite - without causing severe disruptions to other retailers, restricting the level of work that could be completed by the jewellers (who were still operating during the renovation) or that would affect the overall plan of the build.
But first. The big problem. The wall.
Being so historic, plans and details of how the wall was constructed, and what it supported in terms of structural capacity, were severely limited. As a historic city, this isn’t uncommon for buildings in Wellington’s CBD, however, it does pose challenges when drastically changing the internal structure of a building.
Originally thought to be just brick & mortar, the composite structure began to be dismantled, brick-by-brick, revealing to be reinforced with Steel mesh and concrete. A much more significant undertaking than originally anticipated.
It became apparent that the floor levels between the two retail stores were completely different. This provided further complication, to decide if it was more beneficial to undertake a large variation in the project to ‘chip down the higher side to become level, or to raise the lower level to match the higher one.
This uncovered more complications. The already pre-existing Village Goldsmith, like all large scale jewellers, had an unmovable vault. By raising the floor, the vault would be permanently sealed shut.
The solution was to create a cascading floor - that would enable the two existing floors to be matched, without putting restrictions on being able to access the existing vault system.
"Again, just another problem, a problem that Graeme was able to create a solution to fix the issue. So you know, what we see ultimately, is a result of somebody being as clear and precise as Graeme, where all of these sorts of issues would come into play, but you know, he's not just a really good builder and a creative engineer but he's able to come up with great solutions as they’re needed." - Ian Douglas
It’s creative solutions like these from Graeme and the Team at Black Sheep that enabled The Village Goldsmith to turn their vision into a reality - with the project spurring off the back of just a “Simple Coffee with Ian” as Graeme would put it, that became a monumental but successful high-end showroom and venue.
The finished product is one that Ian Douglas is proud of. Commenting that customers frequently commend his team on how well presented and creative their retail environment is. It’s also a project that Black Sheep is incredibly proud of - with Graeme often referring to the project as “one of a kind” and “well-done”.
"Every metre there was horizontal steel mesh running through and connecting the thing, that took him two and a half weeks just to get the walls out. That was just typical of unexpected things that occurred during the build. So Graeme had to think of solutions, “ok - so how are we going to do this” - But that's a cool thing about Graeme. His view is; “Let's face it, there's a problem, but here’s a solution."