A dramatic design for a new Auckland waterfront walking bridge has been shortlisted for a global architecture award.

A new video released by Panuku Development Auckland shows the bridge with its massive fins slowing moving into and out of place.

Monk Mackenzie's bold plan has been named as a finalist in the World Architectural Festival event.

Artist's impression of bridge in action. Photo / Panuku Development Auckland
Artist's impression of bridge in action. Photo / Panuku Development Auckland

The bridge is to be between North Wharf and Te Wero Island, initially scheduled to be ready for the 2021 America's Cup and replacing the smaller existing bridge build for Rugby World Cup 2011.

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Dean Mackenzie of Monk Mackenzie described the scheme, "more a kinetic sculpture than simply a bridge. The Wynyard bridge comprises two rotating and interlocking sculpted wings that each have a 47.5m-high mast and a 47.5m-long deck," he said.

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Revealed: Auckland's new waterfront plans for America's Cup

"These wings lock together to form a 6m-wide deck. The form tapers from the central point of the wing outward to both the deck and mast, creating an elegant and form reminiscent of the native seabird the Tara," Mackenzie said.

Hamish Monk of Monk Mackenzie said many other businesses were involved in the bridge plans. Those included Beca on the structural engineering, Eadon Consulting for the mechanical or moving mechanisms, Wraight + Associates on the urban design of the ramp approaches and stairs and iwi artists Tessa Harris, Graham Tipene and Reuben Kirkwood.

Athfield Architects had worked with Wraight on the specimen design, "that sets out the brief for the project".

On April 3 this year, Panuku announced plans to replace the pedestrian bridge, saying it had commissioned the design of a new, more reliable bridge.

"The existing Wynyard Crossing, which has become a critical transport connection, was installed as a temporary structure for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It is reaching the end of its useful life and needs frequent and costly repairs to keep it running smoothly," Panuku said.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said at the time that the new bridge reflected the council's commitment to enhancing and transforming the waterfront.

Existing Wynyard Crossing to be replaced. Photo/Greg Bowker
Existing Wynyard Crossing to be replaced. Photo/Greg Bowker

"It will operate more efficiently and cater for the greater number of people who live, work and pass through Wynyard Quarter, as well as the surge of visitors expected to be spending time on the waterfront for the America's Cup," Goff said.

"Hosting AC36 will help to accelerate more projects like this. It will leave an infrastructure legacy for Auckland that will benefit our city well after the yachts have stopped racing," Goff said.

Allan Young, Panuku development director, said the replacement bridge would be visually spectacular and larger than the existing bridge to cope with rising demand.

"The double leaf design is a beautiful structure reminiscent of modern yacht masts or the wings of a large seabird," Young said.

Wynyard Crossing bridge plans by Monk Mackenzie. Photo / supplied
Wynyard Crossing bridge plans by Monk Mackenzie. Photo / supplied

"It will be a landmark addition to an already thriving neighbourhood and will be something all Aucklanders can be proud of," he said.

Panuku said the final design would aim to meet three key criteria:

• "To be of the highest design quality, offering design innovation and be capable of becoming an outstanding example of its type;

• "Make a positive and memorable contribution to the urban waterfront setting.

• "To recognise and celebrate its role as a distinctive element in the east-west waterfront route.

The bridge is also to be 60 per cent lighter to lift than a single arm design, using less energy to operate.

Existing bridge rising. Photo / supplied
Existing bridge rising. Photo / supplied

"Maintenance can be carried out on each arm separately, adding to the efficiency of the structure. It can also be built using smaller, less intrusive cranes," Panuku said, adding that it hoped resource consent could granted by around the middle of this year so that construction could start early next year and be finished around next December.

A temporary pontoon bridge would be provided for pedestrians to move between Te Wero Island and Viaduct Harbour while the new structure is being built.

But in June, Panuku's Young announced problems.

"It may feel like we're pushing pause on progress, but we want to ensure that what is built is going to be of the highest quality and design innovation. There are a number of challenges with the replacement of the Wynyard Crossing bridge. The most significant is our ability to complete the connection by the time the America's Cup starts," Young said.

The June 27 statement went on: "As part of the investigations required for the resource consent application, some significant challenges and constraints of the waterfront site were uncovered, including the need to strengthen the approaches to the bridge and working in a very compact area."

That statement indicated Panuku might not get the bridge done by 2021 for the America's Cup and APEC.

Matt Lowrie of Greater Auckland questioned the new bridge size, saying going from the existing 4.4m to just 6m would not be enough to cope with demand and he wants bikes and pedestrians separated.

"A 6m wide bridge is an improvement but not by that much, given how many people use it, especially on busy weekends," Lowrie said.

Party central on the bridge in 2011: Photo / Natalie Slade
Party central on the bridge in 2011: Photo / Natalie Slade

"The fact they will still want cyclists to dismount suggests they have focused on looks and not on functionality or the user experience," he said.

"Even another metre or two in width would add substantially to the usability. Also, ideally the walking and cycling parts should be separated. The bridge routinely averages close to 1000 trips a day in summer months and on weekends is often easily over 1000," Lowrie said.

He also wants a revision or debate about bridge opening rules.

"Currently, anytime a boat wants to enter or exit the Viaduct Harbour, the bridge opens, even if there are thousands of people wanting to cross," Lowrie said.

"I understand there are certain conditions that were agreed in the past about this but just like how we use our streets is being rethought, so too should this crossing," he argued.