Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Global Walking Tour: Auckland
9 August 2018
See more CTBUH Tours & Visits
See other Cities' Global Walking Tour reports
See more on the Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee

AUCKLAND - Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter seemed like a natural focus for this year’s CTBUH Global Walking Tour theme, “Walking on Water.” Wynyard Quarter is a reclaimed piece of land on the Waitemata Harbour’s edge located to the western side of Auckland’s central business district (CBD). This area has been historically occupied by industrial activities such as shipping fuel storage facilities, fishing industry facilities and a car and passenger ferry terminal. However, in recent years Wynyard Quarter has undergone a major transformation into a public waterfront space with mixed-use residential and commercial developments.

Architectus worked extensively on the Wynyard Quarter Framework in 2007. Fundamental to this framework are four key urban concepts which were established to integrate the site into its unique waterfront and CBD setting which have informed its transformation (illustrated in the diagrams below).

The Water Front Axis - "Establishing the Waterfront Spine" (left); The Park Axis - "Creating a Landscape Network" (right)

The Wharf Axis - "Connecting Land & Sea" (left); Waterfront Precincts - "Developing Areas of Distinct Character" (right)

The Auckland CTBUH Global Walking Tour, led by
James Mooney, Principal, Architectus; Lauren Speer, Architectural Graduate, Architectus; and Severin Soder, Principal, Architectus, navigated the “Waterfront Axis” – the east-west axis that connects the CBD waterfront. The route included stops at both new developments as part of the Quarter’s redevelopment as well as retained original industrial structures.


The first stop of the tour was Silo Park located at the far western end of Wynyard Quarter. Silo Park is comprised of six disused cement silos, called Silo 6, as well as an industrial viewing deck gantry and an urban playground. The tour was met by Paul Nicoll, the Technical Advisor for Programming from Auckland Council’s Panuku group, who outlined the current reuse of the silos as a public exhibition space, as well as Panuku’s vision for Silo Park. The group was guided up the side of the six silos to their rooftops. It was here that the group gained an extensive vista of Auckland’s waterfront in which the Waterfront Axis was particularly apparent. Throughout the warmer months, Silo Park hosts night markets and open-air cinema events where the movies are projected onto the side of Silo 6. The tour then progressed along the Waterfront Axis to Jellicoe Street and North Wharf.

The CTBUH Walking Tour group climbing up the side of the disused cement silos (left); Steel structures on the rooftop of the silos (right). Photos by Severin Soder.
An aerial perspective photo taken on rooftop of the silos looking along the Waterfront Axis. Photo by Lauren Speer.


Jellicoe Street and North Wharf are two connected waterfront spaces – a lushly planted streetscape and a water’s edge promenade – that form a key part of Auckland’s new Wynyard Quarter and the city’s east-west Waterfront Axis. The joint landscape design project, by Wraight + Associates (Wā) and Melbourne-based design partners Taylor Cullity Lethlean, provides on the North Wharf a generous promenade on the harbor edge where the public coexists with the fishing industry; and outdoor dining alongside an authentic working harbor environment. Jellicoe Street, running parallel to North Wharf but connecting at the plaza and play intersections, is a flush pedestrian street with rich, informal planting that recalls Auckland’s gully ecologies.

The Jellicoe Street boulevard establishes a new public realm language for Auckland, one that promotes a civic presence with a diverse indigenous planted character. North Wharf and Jellicoe Street are strongly contrasting, yet coherently combined through the considered use of new and found materials and elements throughout. Site-wide stormwater treatment is integrated and culminates in a large linear wetland framing the Silo Park lawns in the west. Silo Park is a successful events-focused open space with an iconic character borrowed from the towering retained cement silos, wetland, and the three-story gantry, a new industrial viewing and urban exploration infrastructure.


Located parallel to Jellicoe Street, Tīramarama Way is a pedestrian and cycle-only public laneway within Wynyard Central, an emerging cluster of high-quality commercial and residential developments in the Wynyard Quarter. The design, by Wraight + Associates (Wā) in collaboration with artist Lisa Reihana, reveals the whakapapa (the traditional Māori organizing principle that connects all known and unknown people, places and things) of the place by drawing from the historic tidal/water edge beneath, and the underlying geology of this once intertidal environment. The laneway offers unique, and highly dynamic, expressions of water and light, particularly through the "purposeful puddles" that fill with water in sync with the rising tide, and the array of catenary lighting strung across the street that recalls Māori cosmology. An extensive surface treatment abstractly recalls the former shoreline, while the bivalve planters and densely planted nikau (palm native to New Zealand) grove provide opportunities for play and exploration that extend the intertidal concept underpinning the place.

Nathan Young from Wraight + Associates disucssing with the tour group the design of Tīramarama Way. Photo by Lauren Speer (left); The recently completed Tīramarama Way. Photo by Severin Soder (right)


Progressing along the Waterfront Axis, the tour then made their way to the Viaduct Events Centre. Designed by Moller Architects in 2011, the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre was purpose-built as an events space with an area of 6,000 square meters. The distinctive wave roof form and the gangplanks that lead to the public viewing deck portray strong connections between the building and its marine site. In recent news, the events centre has now been earmarked to be Team New Zealand’s home for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021. Located adjacent to the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre is Karanga Plaza where the tour moved to next.


Karanga Plaza is a significant and important open space for Auckland’s waterfront. The plaza is the arrival and departure point for movements between the CBD and Wynyard Quarter and an important event and recreational destination. The design concepts for this project seek to establish a high degree of connectivity along the Waterfront Axis and visual connections between land and sea. The two key design concepts of hardstands (flexible multi-functional event spaces) and slip (articulation of the water’s edge) establish a design strategy that integrates the site’s marine archaeology, historical uses, and patterns of activity. Linking Wynyard Quarter to the CBD is Te Wero Bridge which marked the next stop on the other side, Te Wero Island.

Tidal stairs connecting Karanga Plaza to the water. Photo by Architectus New Zealand (left); Te Wero Bridge linking Wynyard Quarter and the CBD. Photo by Severin Soder (right)

Te Wero Island is the linking element of the waterfront axis that connects Wynyard Quarter to the CBD via its two adjoining bridges: Te Wero Bridge and the historic Hobson Wharf lifting bridge. Designed by Boffa Miskell in 2011, Te Wero Island is a public space that employs broad bands of boldly colored surfacing which mark the new pedestrian route. At the western end of Te Wero Island, a container library has been installed where you can sit out on loose outdoor furniture and read a book in the sun.


Princes Wharf forms part of the hospitality heart of Auckland’s CBD, home to a mixture of bars and restaurants as well as the Hilton hotel, and sits at the eastern end of the Waterfront Axis. The tour ventured to the public viewing deck that bookends the hotel at the end of the wharf which enables views out across the harbor towards Auckland’s North Shore. Guarantees of public access were part of the resource consents for the wharf’s development in 2004. The tour group then finished the night off with some more architectural and urban design conversations at Dr. Rudi’s rooftop bar which looks back towards Wynyard Quarter.

* Jellicoe St, North Wharf & Tīramarama Way text contribution by Wraight + Associates.