The Kaimataara o Wai Manawa was initiated by Auckland Council to provide a public space for the Birkenhead area.
The design intent of the project is to connect the main street of Birkenhead with the views over Le Roys Bush to the east and beyond to the wider Auckland Harbour. The view encompasses a wide-angle view of Auckland from Rangitoto to North Head and around to the south to include the Eastern Bays, the City Centre and Harbour Bridge.
The public deck is split into two levels. The upper level deck provides elevated views towards the harbour, the lower deck, at street level, interfaces with the footpath and Birkenhead Avenue. The two levels are separated by a set of bleachers for casual seating and act as an auditorium for any performances and activities on the lower deck. A ramp is provided to allow for accessibility to all. The public deck has a new cafe building to the southern edge to activate the public space and is designed to maintain a discrete identity so as not to compromise the public deck.
The project connects to a hitherto unavailable view and opens up the connection between Birkenhead and the Le Roys Bush and the wider context. The project maximises the potential of the limited budget to offer the maximum return for the investment with a simple selection of materials and finishes suitable for a robust public facility.
The colour selection of the project was to respond to the context, particularly the Le Roys Bush and natural environment as well as responding to consultation and input from Manu Whenua and the artist engaged on the project Reuben Kirkwood. The decision regarding colour selection of the Café building and steel supporting structure was to select a dark background colour with all elements coated or painting the same colour including cladding, structure and window and door openings. This was selected as Thunder Grey and Resene Squall.
The other key element for colour selection was the balustrade to the ramp on the northern edge with a series of steel fins that form the balustrade painted in Resene Uracryl in eight colours – Resene Go Ben, Resene Punga, Resene Putty, Resene Twister, Resene Siam, Resene Tumbleweed, Resene Twine and Resene Lichen – selected to reflect colours found in nature to make the connection between the urban environment of main street Birkenhead and the natural bush beyond. Plaster walls and balustrade panels are finished in Resene Lumbersider in Resene Alabaster, and balustrade stanchions and steel structure in Resene Uracryl in Resene Squall.
The site while level at the street drops sharply away down a steep bank. The challenges for the project were the limited access from the street and the steep bank requiring a large steel structure to provide the level platform to construct the deck and suspend it over the bush below.
Architectural specifier: Moller Architects
Building contractor: Downer
Client: Auckland Council
Other key contributor: Reuben Kirkwood
Painting contractor – structure: Sharp Decorating Solutions
Painting contractor – balustrade: Amediate Engineering
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