The first catalytic projects of this redevelopment are public spaces centred on Jellicoe Harbour and Silo Park. These spaces promote an alternative design approach to the typical erasure of waterfront memory. Here, friction is encouraged, smelly fish are the attraction, rust, grit and patina are embraced and derelict artefacts are reprogrammed.
Underpinning the design are two key moves: retention and enhancing of fishing and maritime industries to form the focus of new public experiences; and, interpreting the site’s peculiar archaeology of patterns and materiality informs a new public landscape.
The redevelopment of the harbour side Wynyard Quarter (also known as the Tank Farm), provides Auckland with a multi faceted world-class waterfront within which a broad spectrum of activities and experiences are on offer. This project encompasses the development of the public domain associated with North Wharf, Jellicoe Street and Silo Park.
The gritty industrial rawness of North Wharf provides a foil to the intensely urban environments of Jellicoe Street and Silo Park. The authenticity of this waterfront experience is embodied in the retention of the existing fishing fleet and fish market activity within the general vicinity. The daily fishmarket related bustle maintains the site’s commercial sea-faring heritage, providing a colourful, vibrant and intriguing montage of activity for visitors to the harbour’s edge. This milieu of harbourside industry is the platform from which the colour palette, for public domain elements including North Wharf’s ‘Crate’ Seats and Silo Park’s ‘Drifting Buoys’ and Boundary Fence, has been inspired and developed.
Silo Park is primarily a field of green open space between the new gantry and wetlands. Intentionally bereft of over-ornamentation the park reflects the simplicity of the industrial port environment within which it sits. The field is positioned to take full advantage of harbour views, while the Gantry structure frames its edge and gives visitors the opportunity to experience the Wynyard Quarter from an entirely new perspective. The Gantry’s muted dark micaceous grey finish is offset by a series of brightly coloured, jauntily marooned marine buoys on one side and a vibrantly coloured boundary fence on the other that recalls off loaded cargo containers. In an environment that is dominated by large scale industrial silos and refined, but neutral, urban tones this injection of strong colour in Silo Park brings an element of playful visual indulgence while eliciting the site’s historic and contemporary narrative.
The Crate seats that punctuate North Wharf are an overt homage to the site’s resident fishing fleet and mongering activities. Referencing upturned fishing crates, stacked and awaiting their next sea voyage, these multi coloured seats painted in Resene colours offer engaging moments for hesitation and rest along the wharf’s length. Varied configurations of the module unit create flexible seating/gathering/interaction opportunities.
Sourced from the client’s store of decommissioned maritime paraphernalia, the buoys have been successfully refurbished from their original rusty, worn and less than vibrant condition to present striking visual amenity within the park’s urbane structure. The newly re-purposed buoys are placed in a dynamic formation, seemingly bobbing in their sea of green lawn, inviting play and physical contact. The colour palette for the buoys is purposely restricted to three basic colours – red, blue and white, in a concerted effort to retain the buoys distinctively unique maritime character, while affording an eyecatching moment within the park’s tilting green planes. The buoys evoke site narratives on several levels: • They allude to the site’s watery history - Silo Park is constructed on reclamation, an area which had previously been an integral part of North Wharf’s anchorage, and prior to European settlement was part of the area’s natural harbour system. • Simultaneously they speak of and to the site’s broader harbour context, drawing the expansive working harbour context into a far more intimate scale whereby visitors can have up close engagement with an authentic harbour relic – facilitating an appreciation of scale, fabrication and design detail.
The aquamarine blue (Resene Observatory) and vivid red (Resene Havoc) are as true to the original buoy colours as could be achieved, in accordance with the project’s specification and due in large part to the main Contractor’s diligence and dedication.
The Boundary Fence
Reminiscent of an active port wharf filled with cargo containers, the multi coloured industrial scale boundary fence forms the interface between the working tank farm and Silo Park. The fence is a conspicuously vivid intervention juxtaposed against the mostly neutral tones of industry and parkscape, a burst of vibrant colour that recalls this harbour’s dynamic life as port hub and points toward a fun and active park future.
The varied sized panels of intense blues, reds and oranges are moderated by panels of light and dark grey, all of which are encased by a dark grey border eliciting an almost Mondrian-like effect. This dynamic staccato fringe frames the park, seemingly holding the silos at bay while performing as colourful backdrop to the park’s green expanses and the Gantry’s industrial asceticism. Contained by the scale of the context in which it sits, the fence offers a balanced measure of boldness, playfulness and structure.
The harbour side location of this site called for a resilient system designed to tolerate New Zealand coastal conditions and provide adequate protection for the substrate metal surfaces of both the buoys and fence elements. Working with Resene, the design team were able to achieve a colour palette that was suitably bold and vibrant. With input into both the paint system specification and methodology of application, the painting contractor was able to achieve a high quality finish that more than meets the design team’s expectations.
While the buoys in their original rusty condition did exude a certain senescent charm, their proposed siting within the public domain adjacent Auckland Harbour did call for consideration of issues around public safety and the longevity of the buoys themselves. The goal to deliver an authentic waterfront experience, in tandem with these requirements led to the decision to refurbish the buoys using a robust paint system in colours that were a good match to the original.
The vividly coloured buoys sit in stark contrast to their immediate context, they literally and figuratively ‘pop’ from their new habitat in hues of Resene Observatory, Resene Havoc and Resene Whiteout. The paint system specified (Resene ArmourZinc 120, Resene Armourcote 220, Resene Uracryl 403 and Resene Uracryl 404) is designed to provide protection and adherence to the buoys’ cleaned mild steel substrate while ensuring a high quality colour fast finish.
The fence bridges the interface between park operations and working tank farm. It lends itself aesthetically to both functions, it is at once industrial and playful. The layered paint system of Resene Armourcote 220, Resene Uracryl 403 and Resene Uracryl UV Stabilised 402 achieves rich deep colour with minimum reflectivity, while providing protection to the galvanised steel substrate. It is painted in hues of Resene Chicago, Resene Silver Chalice, Resene Bondi Blue, Resene Westside and Resene Daredevil. Site wide timber work is finished in Resene Furniture and Decking Oil.
Resene Silver Chalice
Resene Bondi Blue
Resene West Side
Landscape Architects: Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Wraight + Associates
WSUD: Design Flow
Civil Engineers: Beca
Structural Engineers - Gantry: Felicetti , BGT Auckland
Structural Engineers - General: Beca
Lighting Design: Electrolight, Ecubed
Architecture North Wharf Buildings: Fearon Hay
Services Engineers: Hyder Consulting
Contractors: Dominion - Jellicoe Street, City Parks (Auckland City Council) - planting, Total Spaces Silo Park
Client Group: Sea + City (now Waterfront Auckland), MPM Projects - Project Manager, Tangata Whenua Consultative Committee, Technical Advisory Group, Auckland City Council, Auckland Regional Council, Urban Design Review Team
Photography: Simon Devitt