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Restoring splendour: The Oamaru Opera House Dome project

08 Apr 2024

In the town of Oamaru, New Zealand, the Oamaru Opera House stands as a testament to the elegance and grandeur of a bygone era. Once a beacon of Victorian opulence, time had taken its toll on this architectural gem. However, a recent project led by interior designer Carolina Izzo, has breathed new life into its faded glory, focusing particularly on the restoration of its iconic dome.

The Oamaru Opera House, like many historic buildings, had undergone numerous renovations over the years. The dome, a focal point of its grandeur, had been subject to multiple re-paintings, obscuring its original Victorian-era palette. What once boasted pink and white tones alongside gilded embellishments had been changed into a more subdued Edwardian Baroque scheme of green and white during the latter half of the 20th century.

The many decades and layers of paint revealed on the dome.

Undeterred by the layers of history, Carolina embarked on a comprehensive stratigraphic analysis. This involved dissecting each distinct decorative element to unearth the original colours and composition. Through meticulous examination, the team unveiled the long-lost hues that once adorned the dome, offering a glimpse into its glorious past.

Carolina uncovering the previous colour scheme and layers to determine the restoration of the dome.

Armed with insights from the past, Carolina turned to Resene, collaborating closely with Architect Ian Bowman to craft a heritage colour scheme. Drawing inspiration from the Victorian era, the team meticulously selected Resene colours to recreate the dome's original palette. Pink tones such as Resene Sand, Resene Cashmere and Resene Bowman intertwined with white shades like Resene Spanish White and Resene Triple White Pointer, were chosen to echo the grandness of yesteryears.

The new base colours for the dome include Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat with Resene AquaShield tinted to Resene Spanish White and Resene Triple White Pointer.

Every Resene colour choice was deliberate, aimed at restoring three-dimensionality to the stucco decorations and breathing life into the dome once more. Through careful consultation with the Opera House, the team ensured that while the colours harked back to its origins, they seamlessly blended with the contemporary aesthetics of the building.

A delicate hand was needed to paint the new dome, using the shades of Resene Sand, Resene Cashmere, Resene Bowman and base colours of Resene Spanish White and Resene Triple White Pointer.

The Oamaru Opera House dome is now a beacon of Victorian elegance amidst modernity. This project has not only revitalised a historic landmark but also served as a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving architectural heritage for future generations.

The restored dome shines once more in all its glory with Resene colours paying homage to the previous scheme while bringing it into a modern world.

Thanks to the vision and dedication of Carolina Izzo, this iconic structure continues to enchant and inspire, bridging the gap between the past and the present.

design Carolina Izzo, Studio Carolina Izzo

images Sari Renee Photography

Published: 08 Apr 2024