01 September, 2010

Bungee Jumping in Style!

By Lauren Setum, LiLu Interiors Intern
I admit, I did not bungee jump off a bridge, but I did find the style in it! The Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown is where AJ Hackett and Henry van Ash took the world’s first leap, and it is the only bungee in the area where a bungee jumper can choose to bob above the water, touch it, or be fully immersed. At 43 meters, the jump is intense even for those watching from observation decks, if I do say so myself! The first jump I witnessed gave me that roller coaster feeling in my stomach as I watched a person plunge head first toward rushing water, secured by nothing more than a string…ok, maybe something a little stronger than that. The site, however, is designed with the intention of evoking a sense of adrenaline similar to what a bungee jumper may experience.

The exterior design of the Kawarau Bungee Center encompasses some rather sharp lines and cool, hard materials that make it feel a bit  intimidating. If not for  its intriguing shape and naturally beautiful setting, one might not be as drawn to it. I imagine that this initial mixture of emotion mirrors what a bungee jumper may experience upon arriving at the site.

Another view of the bungee center and its natural surroundings

A visitor is greeted by the sound of rock music pulsing through the space, inside and out. To reach the check-in, refreshment cafe, and shop, one must follow this suspended ramp that stretches all the way around the building, starting at the top and ending on the ground floor. Though the visitor is confined to the walkway upon entering, he has the opportunity to experience the rest of the design simultaneously, as the plan is quite open. Again, the experience created by this design is similar to that of a bungee jumper...starting at the top and ending at the bottom, experiencing one's surroundings, but connected to a base. In the bottom left hand corner of this photo, you can see the top of the gift shop.

The top right corner of this photo shows where visitors enter, and office windows can be seen among the wood slats. Until reaching the ground floor, a visitor is not exactly sure what he will encounter. Again, the feelings of a bungee jumper are incorporated into the design.

The Bungee Shop that the ramp wraps around

A wall of windows connects the interior to the exterior. The Bungee Shop is directly behind this seating area.

The bridge where the real action takes place! An obervation deck can be seen built into the bluffs on the right hand side.

It was quite a scenic area. This observation deck is set a bit lower in the bluffs.

1, 2, 3 JUMP! For some people it took a bit longer. The first person I saw take the plunge took about 10 minutes to be coaxed into jumping, although I can't say I blamed her!

And this is how they retrieve you...

Upon leaving the Kawarau Bungee Center, I was struck by how much the design of the space created a mood for its visitors. If you are thinking about updating your home, remember to think not only about the colors and finishes you want, but also about how you want those materials to make your space feel. It will have an effect on you and your guests. I arrived at the bungee center declaring that I would only be an observer but left thinking that next time, I might take the plunge toward that rushing water. I guess the design’s focus on adrenaline worked!

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