Robinson Memorial Clock Tower Gisborne: Colour Scheme
Dating from 1934, the 17 metre high Robinson Memorial Town Clock Tower is an iconic main street structure in Gisborne. In 2015, of as part of a general upgrading of the structure, the Gisborne District Council sought Salmond Reed Architects' assistance in developing a colour scheme for its redecoration.
The tower is constructed from reinforced concrete with a plaster finish and its art deco styling is apparent in the fluted, up-thrusting four-sided obelisk. Conversely the actual bell tower roof, a small octagonal cupola topping the shaft above the clock faces, is supported on four Doric columns, while a Greek fret patterns decorates the roof downstand/entablature. The design is said to have been based on a light-house form depicted in an advertisement.
Where many similar clock towers located in other New Zealand towns have been designed to "frame" or emphasise the actual clock faces through the additions of physical frames or colours or emphasised moulded decoration, the design of this
tower places noticeably little emphasis on the clock faces themselves. Rather, the architectural intention here appears to rest on emphasising the height of the shaft itself, and drawing the eye to the bell-tower. The clock faces appear to be almost incidentally set into the shaft with minimal interruption to the verticality of the design.
While it is doubtful that a tower dating from the art deco period would have been painted in its original form (built structures of that period relying rather on the play of light and shadow on the decorative mouldings to acquire surface interest) this tower has clearly had a number of paint schemes applied subsequently, with and without the addition of special lighting effects.
These various factors influenced our design response and therefore the two alternative schemes submitted suggest a palette of subtle tonal variations, rather than boldly contrasting colours, with the aim of recognising and restoring the original intention for this memorial.
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