Auckland brings visuals of lush landscapes and serene coastlines, but it is little knowledge that is also home to one of the most liveable urban environments in the world. Auckland is one of the most liveable cities in the world due to its focus on sustainability and its immaculate urban planning. The cityscape of Auckland is a blend of new-age modernism paired with the dainty Classicism of the colonial era. Being the native land of the Maori tribe, Auckland’s architecture pays homage to its heritage in its art galleries and cultural centers. It is safe to say that Auckland forms the perfect intersection in the Venn diagram of culture, nature, and architecture.
Here is a list of 15 Places architects must visit in Auckland:
1. Auckland Art Gallery
The towering timber canopies at the entrance are monumental yet welcoming. The natural wood canopy forms a contrast with the rest of the building consisting of intersecting planes of glass and concrete. While the gallery is ideal for art lovers, an inquisitive eye will notice that the building itself is an abstract interpretation of the surrounding landscape, by the use of geometric patterns and varying scales of spaces. The gallery hosts exhibitions on culture and heritage. It also features a theatre to showcase arthouse films to visitors.
2. Te Oro
The Te Oro looks to be a low-poly artwork brought to life through geometric shards of wood. The highly faceted form is inspired by the leafy canopy of a tree. It is broken at intervals to reveal skylights like the light streaming through trees. The building is a community center for the Glen Innes and the Panmure community and hosts events for the public, promoting local heritage. The design of the interiors is inspired by Polynesian fiber patterns reinstating Semper’s theory that textile influences architecture. The interiors create a warm atmosphere for the visitor with the extensive use of timber elements and large glass windows with reflections of the trees outside.
3. Ironbank Building
The Iron bank building is exaggerated with its expressive form of stacked pieces. Each piece is like a wooden box with the street-facing planes provided with large picture windows. The façade towards the historic street employs an abstract wall mimicking the frontages of the colonial building. The service street façade displays the stacked room towers which are office and retail spaces alternatively. The design depicts an alternate approach to office spaces, by providing several mid-height towers which are in line with the adjacent Victorian heritage buildings. It forms a case study for the abstraction of local heritage.
4. Yellow Treehouse Restaurant
The name says it all, a restaurant in a treehouse. The project was built as part of a marketing campaign but soon garnered attention for its design, and is now a wedding venue. Fellow architects will agree that it reminds one of the simpler times and looks to be straight out of a children’s story. What the project lacks in scale, the projects make up in its whimsical design. The bulbous shape consisting of timber slats wraps around a Redwood tree organically as if, arising from the tree itself. It houses a small seating space with views of the forest beyond the poplar slats that form its structure.
5. University of Auckland Science Centre
The educational building stands out at the street corner. Though its essential form is rectilinear, the exterior façade employs a blanket of repetitive elements draped over the building. The structure serves to form a metaphorical gateway into the University. At the corner, the façade seems to be lifted providing the passer-by a peek into the building’s interior. The breaking up of the various volumes and the interesting facades at the street level, provide engagement with visitors and manages to not be strictly imposing upon the surroundings, as educational buildings often are.
6. Sky Tower
The towering spindly structure rises amidst the Auckland skyline, distinct in its appearance. While it is a must-see for all visitors, the sky tower provides an aerial view of the well-planned city or as architects would say a 1:1000 model of Auckland! The observation deck and restaurant provide recreation along with the bungee jumping experience that visitors can undertake from the top. The structure is made of precast concrete and steel sections and forms an architectural identity for the city.
7. ASB Waterfront Centre
The center is a fresh breath of air amongst theatre projects. The building consists of intersecting volumes, with the theatre forming the central cylindrical block. The intersection of the theatre block with the cuboid forms a plethora of transitional spaces acting as a public space. The building overlooks the waterfront. Visitors can be enthralled by the LED light installation in the building which makes it a wonderful place to be at night. Colorful staircases provide aesthetic relief in the large atrium within. The theatre itself is enough to provide lasting memories of performances using its impeccable acoustic design.
8. The Cloak- TeKaitaka
One cannot fathom where the ground ends and the building arises in The Cloak. It is an experimental structure that sports a lush green roof draping over its exterior made of an engineered mesh system. While unnoticed by the common man due to its blending into its surroundings, architects will find this very nature of the building to be interesting. It was designed to act as a model for sustainable design in the future development of the district. The building employs a multifunctional space that can accommodate various programs.
9. The Civic Theatre
The Civic Theatre is one of the oldest jewels in Auckland’s Streets and is one of the last remaining atmospheric theatres in the world. Located on a street corner, the building evokes old-world charm with its neon signage and plaster ornamentation. The interior is nothing short of a temple, a temple of glamour and pizzazz that is. Low coffered ceilings with sculptures, ornate columns, life-size panther statues are few of the many things which transport the visitor into an early 1900’s movie set. The many halls with extravagant interiors and specific themes within served as hotspots for nightlife in the 1920s.The main theatre itself is nothing short of a spectacle with its ceiling portraying the starry night sky and mystical lighting to create a mood of the drama.
10. Auckland War Memorial Museum
The Auckland War Memorial Museum building is built in the Neoclassical style. The museum is located centrally amidst the rolling green landscape of the Auckland Domain park. The museum is in the city yet seems so far away. At first glance, the building is classical with pediments and columns, but its beauty lies in its details. The ornamentation on the frieze and windows depicts the wars fought by New Zealand. Poppies form a repetitive motif as a symbol of death.
The museum hosts galleries which have a wide range of exhibits on Maori heritage as well as New Zealand’s history.
11. Ferry Building
The Auckland Ferry terminal is a historic hub for the ferry network of Auckland. It is located at the edge of the harbor. The building is quite expressive in its ornamentation owing to its Baroque-style of architecture. The building has formed a pretty backdrop to the busy activities of ferries for the past 100 years. It was built as a civic building built in the 1910s. Pilasters, cornices and the clock tower rising from the middle depict planar classicism and can be appreciated by art history enthusiasts. It is a landmark in the historic district of Quay Street and is now a heritage building.
12. Brito mart
Britomart is a precinct that captures the essence of Auckland’s urban scene in nine blocks. It is the most happening precinct which is home to high street development as well as the classical antiquity of heritage buildings. It is being pruned to become a lively business, cultural and transport hub along Auckland’s waterfront. The entire precinct is picturesque and provides visitors with culinary experiences, high street shopping, and cultural events.
One can appreciate how the development has created a viable model for the amalgamation of history, modern culture, and recreation in the city.
13. Auckland Town Hall
The Auckland Townhall is a historic civic building that houses two distinct programs within its premises- music, and administration. What is common between the two, one may ask – it is merely the ornate and magnificent building in which they reside. The interiors are rich with extensive use of limestone and plasterwork. Stained glass windows and chandeliers create a sense of Renaissance grandeur within the Hall. Visitors can also attend performances at the exclusive Great hall and the concert chamber inside. The music halls are elaborately decorated and are classical with blind arcades running on the wall and tiered balcony seating.
14. Holy Trinity Cathedral
The cathedral was designed as a modern take on the traditional cathedral. The building is in the form of hierarchical ridges that form the nave and aisles as opposed to spires and pediments. The most striking part of the church is the stained-glass windows of the front façade. From the exterior, these windows appear dark and simple but on entering inside one can truly appreciate the burst of color through the windows as light streams inside. The inside of the church incorporates wooden panelling on the roofs and linear nature of elements, directing the eyes towards the end of the hall.
15. Onepoto Footbridge
The footbridge almost seems to writhe and wriggle across the North Shore landscape as pedestrians use it to cross the tidal stream below. The footbridge employs a parametric design with repeating curves to generate a rhythmic form that seems to depict motion while being still. Laminated timber components unite to form the 46-meter bridge. The timber “ribs” envelop the pedestrian as they walk along but also provide fleeting views of the city through the gaps. The footbridge is transitional architecture at its best, proving that the journey can be more exciting than the destination.