Te Hauāuru Reserve, Westgate Town Park, is a recreational area for the growing township of Westgate designed to serve a growing residential community in Auckland, New Zealand. It connects people to place through layers of storytelling embedded into the form of the park.
This integrated green space has been developed in collaboration with local iwi (tribe) and takes its visual cues from the site’s location within the network of upper Waitematā (Auckland Harbour) inlets, streams, and the history of the kauri (native tree) forests that once covered the area.
A unique and memorable user experience results from the overall layout influencing how people inhabit the spaces, to the textures, iconography, and typography set within them. The project solves the challenge of creating a flexible space to accommodate many types of use, while being of this place and relevant to a new and growing community.
Concrete seating edges and paved pathways are conceptualized as stream banks, with gaps between the banked walls "inlets" to allow flows of people into and across the various areas. The industrious nature of Mana Whenua (indigenous people) is represented through imagery that is revealed throughout the site.
The graphics speak about early occupation of the Waitematā coastal edge and its inland slopes. Early gardening activity is represented by supersized tools etched into the faceted walls. Brass inlays of representative shellfish are embedded within the promenade paving surface. Shellfish collected from the harbour remind us of the abundant food source relied upon by Mana Whenua.
The park’s organizing spine, the tree-lined Maki Street promenade, continues this narrative. Paved with large, poured-in-place slabs, where seashells from the Waitematā are visible in the exposed aggregate. The promenade is an interstitial space that mediates between "main street" and the park. It is able to accommodate markets and other events but in day-to-day use the variety of sheltered benches and seats provides resting options for those enjoying the setting.
At the confluence of the main paths, visible from the street edges, clusters of water jets play over a stepped pavement surface collecting water into shallow pools that express local iwi narratives. Referencing the former kauri industry through form, pattern and text inlay, with kauri bark relief within the base of the water feature and to the sides of the seating plinths. The collection of water into shallow pools references the damming of the waterways to float the Kauri logs out. The seating edges and tree groupings provide informal play opportunities.
In close proximity to this water feature is an amenity building that houses two universally accessible restrooms and a plant room. The building’s materials are a combination of precast panels for solidity, timber framing for articulation, and a perforated aluminum rain screen that unifies the form. Simplified representations of the Manu tukutuku or Māori kite (both bird and object) are laser-cut into the anodized aluminum screen continuing the narrative across the building. Concealed skylights create a hidden element to the architecture; the sunlight casts the shapes onto the internal walls.
“Beautiful and so well-crafted, this project stands out for its refined use of material—concrete and brass—and elegant typography to connect the community to the history of the place. The organic form of the patterns, the Wai Mauri text inlay, and the kauri bark relief naturally interact with water and altogether create a unique experience. My favorite is the concealed skylights that create beautiful casts onto the concrete wall. Breathtaking.”
“I really enjoyed how the urban hardscape surface gets softened with the great use of cultural visual cues, along with sea creatures and water for play and cooling activities.”
Sarah Bishop (bid lead and project landscape architect); Grant Bailey (project sponsor); Nada Stanish (landscape architect); Andrew Mirrams (architect design lead); Hayley Smith (project architectural designer); Rebecca Jerram (landscape architect - delivery), Azmon Chetty (architectural designer); Greta Christiansen, Alex Foxton (landscape designers)