Project 'lesson for cargo sheds'

By Bernard Orsman

The former naval mining buildings at Torpedo Bay, Devonport, are being turned into a Naval Museum. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The former naval mining buildings at Torpedo Bay, Devonport, are being turned into a Naval Museum. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The way a basic timber-framed shed was transformed into into the Naval Museum at Devonport should be a lesson for the old cargo sheds on Queens Wharf, says architect Ken Davis.

"We have destruction on one side of the harbour and creative use on the other. It seems absurd to me."

Mr Davis is overseeing the $1.5 million redevelopment of the naval mining buildings at Torpedo Bay into the new Naval Museum with exhibition space, a temporary gallery, classroom, meeting and administration rooms and cafe, due to open in October.

The site has been used by New Zealand military forces since 1880, initially as part of Auckland's defence system against a threat from Russia.

Today, it is the most substantial and intact 19th century torpedo base to survive in New Zealand.

The project has involved taking an "extremely raw" timber-framed shed built in the 1890s, that was part of a complex of setting up mines and sending them to Bastion Pt.

More recently the building was modified to accommodate the Navy Band and an engineering workshop. It was generally sound, apart from some rotting floorboards and rusty cladding.

"This is a modest project but appropriate to its context," said Mr Davis, of Herriot + Melhuish Architecture.

"I think it gives an idea of what is possible when confronted with the challenge of how to integrate public uses into heritage maritime buildings."

He said the museum was one of many national and international precedents for adaptive and sustainable reuse of industrial heritage buildings.

"There is absolutely no reason for the Queens Wharf sheds to be torn down for short-term use for the Rugby World Cup," Mr Davis said.

The Auckland Regional Council is in talks with the Historic Places Trust on protecting the historic features of Queens Wharf.

But the future of the sheds remains a sticking point.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully and ARC chairman Mike Lee said in April that the two 98-year-old cargo sheds on Queens Wharf would be removed to make space for a temporary $9.6 million party central venue and cruise ship terminal.

Trust heritage adviser Joshua Arbury has described the temporary building as looking like a "giant slug".

The Auckland Architecture Association and Heart of the City are battling to retain the sheds - at least until a masterplan is developed for the Auckland waterfront.

A group of interested associations is pushing for a development at Auckland's Tank Farm for a "heritage landing" in which to house historic vessels and which celebrates the area's marine heritage.

The heritage landing could have links to the nearby Maritime Museum at the Viaduct Harbour and the Navy Museum at Torpedo Bay.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 25 Oct 2014 07:50:02 Processing Time: 229ms