'Noble' sheds must stay, say architects

By Bernard Orsman

The Queens Wharf sheds. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Queens Wharf sheds. Photo / Dean Purcell

Twenty-one Auckland architects have signed a letter saying no convincing case has been made for demolishing the Queens Wharf cargo sheds.

The two sheds are to be replaced with a $9.6 million temporary structure to be used as Rugby World Cup "party central" and a cruise ship terminal.

"The Queens Wharf sheds are among the few good examples of early industrial architecture left in Auckland," says the letter, written by architect David Mitchell and signed by 20 colleagues.

Mr Mitchell, awarded the gold medal of the NZ Institute of Architects, has the support of two other gold medal winners, Gordon Moller and Marshall Cook. Other leading architects to sign the letter are Pete Bossley, Pip Cheshire, Malcolm Walker, Nicholas Stevens and Gary Lawson.

In April, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully and Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee unveiled plans to remove the two 98-year-old cargo sheds and build a temporary structure.

Since then the regional council has been holding talks with the Historic Places Trust to ensure historic wharf features are protected and promoted in the development of the wharf.

But the parties are remaining tight-lipped about the future of the sheds.

Mr Lee said the ARC had constructive discussions with the trust, and was now talking to the Government.

Mr Mitchell's letter said architects had a professional understanding of the planning and construction issues involved in preserving buildings, an appreciation of architectural quality and a love of Auckland as it was and is.

"There are noble structures beneath the battered tin sheathing of these sheds, and we now strongly urge Aucklanders to resist the current proposal to bowl them over and replace them with a new building," it said.

Architect Tony Watkins, writing on the Auckland Architect Association website, said blokes, sheds and rugby were the right ingredients for a party on Queens Wharf.

"The sheds ... have spent a lifetime getting ready for a party. No architect can create that magic."

Mr Lee and Mr McCully have refused to give details of work done on the temporary structure, which the Herald understands includes an option for keeping the sheds.

The Ombudsman is reviewing an Official Information Act request by the Herald for the information.

THE PROBLEM IN A HUTSHELL
* The two cargo sheds on Queens Wharf are 98 years old.
* They are to be removed to make way for a temporary structure for the Rugby World Cup.
* It will cost $9.6 million for the venue.
* Some Auckland architects would like Aucklanders to resist the present proposal to bowl them.

- NZ Herald

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