I had a great day recently at North Wharf during the Volvo Ocean Race. Having watched a Chinese culture group I headed up the public ramp on the side of the VEC to take in the view, and then headed to Jack Tar for a beer. And there the theatre unfolded.
Dancers in white crossed the wharf moving in synchronicity (it was White Night in the city). And then the float plane landed, closely watch by small boys on their scooters.
Such a visually stimulating experience speaks of the many cultural and heritage stories everywhere on Auckland’s waterfront. From the cement silos (through which hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cement was used to build Auckland) to the public art works and ethnic food festivals and markets on Queens Wharf.
At last count there are 45 culture and heritage references across the waterfront, within Waterfront Auckland’s remit, and I am sure we have missed a few. By references we mean the things that you can see that tell you stories about the area’s past and provide a sense of place. Whether it’s the statue of the Maori chief at the foot of Queen Elizabeth Square or the remnants of the last wooden boat building yard in Auckland - if not the country, there’s a plethora of landmarks. If you look carefully you will see rail tracks and bollards, century old buildings, historic sea walls….to tell you that this is Auckland’s city centre waterfront.
The DNA of Waterfront Auckland’s design approach is built around the creation of an authentic waterfront that respects the history of the area (Maori, European, industrial, maritime) and honours it through the preservation of important elements as well as creating new references in design, art and planting.
In new projects the use of industrial materials and shapes such as recycled concrete, weathering steel and shipping containers (think the gantry, karanga kiosk, public toilets) are a nod to the historic port and industrial activity in the area. The play tanks on Daldy Street (the water tank and the fantastic 7 metre high kids slide) acknowledge the tank farm history. Silo playground reflects the Waitemata harbour sea floor (kelp, shells, anemones and mussel stacks) and reuses marina materials such as pontoons and wharf timbers. Supergraphics (ground murals if you like) reference tidecharts (at Halsey wharf).
This approach has already been acknowledged with international and local design awards and more importantly in the way Aucklanders have embraced the space.
BRENNA WAGHORN, Manager Strategic Planning.
Brenna is the mastermind behind Panuku Development Auckland’s strategic plans and policies such as the Sustainable Development Framework and Waterfront Plan. When she isn’t at work she enjoys taking her dog Tuxedo for walks up Mt Eden and planning holidays with her family.
This was originally posted on www.waterfrontauckland.co.nz