Architects have a role to play in making sure that built environments do not compromise the natural environment. Isthmus bring attention to these issues by exploring the concept of kaitiakitanga (stewardship).
The Habitat Markers were developed as part of the 4km long Te Ara Manawa, a coastal walkway designed around the neighbourhoods of Hobsonville Point. The coastal edge of the upper Waitemata sustains a host of native plants and wildlife from insects, tree lizards and terrestrial birds in the coastal forest, scrublands and long grass meadows, to fish, crabs and coastal birds in the mudflats, shellbanks and rocky shoreline.
To connect the new human community of Hobsonville with the local ecology, ‘points of interruption’ offer opportunities for play and discovery, the markers are located at natural features, as well as remnant structures from the old airforce base.
The Hobsonville colours and textures palette was used for the overall colour scheme. The comprehensive colour, texture and materials palette reflects locally sourced natural materials as well as local and universal Maori cultural traditions and narratives along with distinct Ngati Whatua narratives. The palette is inspired by heaven and elements, land and flora. Colours were chosen to keep the markers as visually simple, but bold, as possible, to blend in with and not overwhelm the fabric of the place, to work with the existing materials, to maintain an empathy, and to build from a subtle base to area of more impact and focus.
The palette was inspired by heaven and elements, represented by Resene Frenzee, Resene Hi Jinx and Resene Sword, land, flora and fauna, with the meadows reflected in Resene Space Station, the estuary in Resene Ming, the stream fauna with Resene Double Napa, the pond fauna with Resene Landmark and the busk flora with Resene Kakapo.
Taking the form of large posts, standing or lying down, the markers are micro-architecture, homes for critters. Solid wooden blocks were CNC routed to create a labyrinth of holes and hollows for birds and insects to make their homes within; and in turn for children to explore and encounter nature. The forms are intended to prompt curiosity; multiple holes of varying sizes provide a habitat for different forms of wildlife. Not knowing what may occupy the markers is part of the appeal.
Designers have a critical responsibility to respect whenua (land). This project makes this connection more obvious in a curious and fun way; architecture for critters as markers within a bigger project. The children of Hobsonville can learn about the natural community that they live amongst as well as the human one.
Building contractor: Cicada Studios
Colour selection: Isthmus
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2018
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