Art blossoms on motorway off-ramp

By Phoebe Falconer

The goings-on behind the black screens in the corner formed by the off-ramps of the Southern and Northwestern Motorways and Union St are losing their mystery.

Red poles tipped with yellow lights can now be seen above the screens. They are the "stamens" of a huge pohutukawa flower, the corner's new piece of artwork.

The pohutukawa was chosen as part of a coastal theme that appears along the reinforced concrete motorway barriers of the new motorway connections. It will have 105 stamens made of hollowed and tapered carbon fibre wands, similar to that used in windsurfer masts.

The stamens are about 5m in length and are set in seven green-tiled domes on top of a block base, which will be surrounded by a ditch or dry moat, to make it less accessible to vandals. The stamens will be lit up at night by lights at their bases.

Around the base of the flower will be planted red flax, and pohutukawa trees will complete the picture.

"The overall effect will be a mildly kinetic and visually dynamic sculpture, especially when the wind blows," says Transit New Zealand's general manager of transport planning Wayne McDonald.

Architect Rod Slater of engineering consultants Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner was the chief designer, and the installation work is being directed by sculptor Quintin Strachan.

Transit hopes that the stamens will be in place by the end of the month, so landscaping can begin.

The sculpture replaces the yellow Flames by Wade Cornell, which stood on the site from the mid-90s and was removed when found to be beyond repair.

The sculpture's cost is included in Transit's Central Motorway Junction project, as part of the Ministry of the Environment's Urban Design Protocol.

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