Architects' stadium vision a 'floating white cloud' [+pictures]

By Bernard Orsman

The architects designing a stadium on the Auckland waterfront say an out-of-bounds area for secondhand Japanese cars will be turned into a major public drawcard within four years.

The Wellington firm of Warren and Mahoney yesterday released new images of what the 37m-high "national stadium" would look like at street level, including one looking down Quay St at the pedestrian crossing to the Ferry Building.

The stadium would sit over Marsden Wharf and straddle Captain Cook and Bledisloe wharves.

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The design, which is in the early stages and subject to change after urban design scrutiny, features a fully glazed translucent cover to provide views to and from the stadium day and night. The aim is to produce a light and accessible public building in the heart of the city.

The glass, clear at the bottom and becoming translucent white higher up, is meant to reflect a "floating white cloud" above the water of the Waitemata Harbour and reflect New Zealand's image as an open, confident and welcoming nation.

The architects say people would be able to stroll around the stadium site - a 90-second walk from the bottom of Queen St - and bars and restaurants would be dotted outside on Captain Cook Wharf, which could become the city's main berth for cruise ships.

Warren and Mahoney director Andrew Barclay said the site would achieve the reverse of what some urban planners were claiming.

Four senior members of the Auckland City Council urban design panel have condemned a stadium as the wrong building for the waterfront.

Gordon Moller, co-convener of the panel and architect of the Sky Tower, said: "Let's stop these crazy ideas of wrecking the waterfront."

But Mr Barclay said the site, which now had no public access, would within four years be a major drawcard.

The Auckland city and regional councils' "Auckland Waterfront Vision 2040" document shows there are no other plans to develop the site until 2030 at the earliest and it could still be used for port activities after 2040.

Another Warren and Mahoney director, Graeme Finlay, said the criticism appeared to be driven largely by emotional and partisan concerns.

"The waterfront site is adjacent to Auckland's transport interchange combining trains, buses and ferry traffic. Eden Park, by contrast, is trapped in a gridlocked suburban location."

There are 22,480 carparks, including 10,000 public ones, within a 20-minute walk of the waterfront site and 3665 hotel beds.


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