Tokoroa is a small town located centrally in New Zealand. Tokoroa was once a thriving industry town with over 20,000 population during the 70’s. However, population migration to larger centres resulted in decline. Tokoroa is located on State Highway 1, the connecting arterial route between NZ's the largest cities: Auckland and Wellington. Over 20,000 motorists pass through Tokoroa daily.An economic report stated that stopping 1% of motorists would result in an economic benefit to Tokoroa of $1.3M per annum.
The overarching requirement of the brief became, “How do we make motorists STOP?”.We decided to create activation points located on the northern and southern ends of the site. These would be the beacons to entice visitors to stop.Several indigenous Maori cultural and historical drivers emerged to be used as metaphors. The visitor centre is inspired by three connecting and meaningful concept drivers.
The Wharenui: people come together under one roof; “Tokoroa” translates to an apparatus of defense, but also of leadership and respect; Tokoroa was the name of a Maori Chief, who was slain in a siege at the base of a Volcanic Plug called Pohaturoa rock.We morphed the landscape onto the roof of the visitor centre to create an observation point, a public space for gathering and outdoor performance. This structure on the northern end of the site would be imposing, draw curiosity and the attention of motorists.By grouping the “Talking Pole” artworks, we created a visually stunning public artwork and second activation point.
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