Contemporary waterfront redevelopments are often characterised by the removal of these qualities that attract us to these places. At Auckland’s Wynyard Point redevelopment these conventions are challenged in a development that transforms a forlorn industrial and maritime precinct into a layered, mixed-use precinct.
The first catalytic project 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. Jellicoe Harbour has an engaging diversity of use, including large industrial container shipping, ferry services and a viable fishing industry.
This overlay of waterfront activities, previously removed from the public gaze, is now central to the public realm experience. Here in Jellicoe Harbour it is integrated as attraction via fishing fleet premises, wholesale and retail fish and seafood markets. The design weaves public realm experiences around these ‘as found’ conditions. The harbour edge, North Wharf Promenade, is now a site of negotiation, a pedestrian and cycle promenade from which to witness and experience the coexisting waterfront industry.
Jellicoe Street runs parallel to the harbour edge and contrasts with the exposed, hard harbour condition. This ‘boulevard’ establishes a new public realm language for Auckland, one that promotes a civic presence with an indigenous character; a grand axis with a pedestrian focus and rich, informal planting. Silo Park is a triangular tract that links Jellicoe Harbour with marine industries to its west. It is located on a former cement depot from which a large silo – once earmarked for removal – now retained.
The silo forms a multi-programmed focus of a layered public space that facilitates a range of hybrid uses; passive recreation, event space, youth precinct, industry and folly. Each program is new to the site, yet built from the pattern language, infrastructure and the mythology of place. These overlapping programs are orientated via the armature of the gantry, an evocative response to the industrial language of the site.
It is designed to be part folly, play structure, lookout, arbour and event framework. It also forms the infrastructure for a proposed working dock. Bringing industry into public view and integrated into the design, reinforces an authentic, albeit glossy, waterfront experience. Jellicoe Harbour and Silo Park demonstrate a receptiveness to investigate, embrace and interpret a narrative of place in the creation of a contemporary and authentic public realm experience.
North Wharf Promenade, Jellicoe Street and Silo Park was designed and completed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Wraight and Associates in a collaborative joint venture.