Boffa Miskell 8 Te Ātea, Lakefront Taupō

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    Blair Clinch, Boffa Miskell, Kingi Pitiroi, Ngati Tuwharetoa
  • Client
    Taupo District Council

The Taupō Town Centre Transformation provided the opportunity to reimagine the town centre as a place that was people-centric, and better connected with the world-class landscape. Along with a broad package of integrated frameworks for transport and urban design outcomes, the client (Taupo District Council), town residents and local iwi Ngāti Tūwharetoa wanted to add a deeper dimension, more reflective of Taupo’s rich cultural history.

A central element of this is Paepae Atea (The Atea) a large atea space with sculptural installations at the centre of Lake Terrace. Traditionally carved pou, mauri stones and bespoke paving and lighting elements draw awaremess to the historic importance of Taupō and the strong values and associations held by Ngāti Tūwharetoa iwi to the land (whenua), local mountains (maunga), roto (Lake Taupō) and awa (Waikatō River) and tributaries. Heritage and culture are embedded within the new design, emphasising the connections that the local people (tangata) have to the place (whenua).

Designers (landscape architecture and urban design) Boffa Miskell worked closely with artists Kingi Pitiroi and Delani Brown to create into a gathering place imbued with meaning and connected to the landscape and environment, which also enhances the broader lakefront, encourages pedestrian flow and engagement with public seating opportunities, and identifies and empowers Tūwheretoa people as mana whenua.

The conceptual response in the built form responds to the lakefront space, the Waikato and its tributary rivers and the weaving together of the people from around the lake.

Established principles of sound urban design underpin the project configuration and ensure its functionality. The Tūwheretoa contribution, led by Kingi Pitiroi, works with those to express cultural themes that operate as a powerful organising framework for the articulation and relationship of key spaces and nodes. It then provides a richness of naturally- and culturally-referenced design detailing that makes the experience of stylish, vibrant urban open space absolutely distinctive to this place and its people.

The circular atea space is framed around its perimeter by thirteen stainless steel pou representing the waterways in-flowing to the lake, with each pou named with its associated hapu. Master carver Delani Brown designed the four pou that represent the four directions of the wind, which in turn represents all people and their mauri and also the four elements - water, air, earth and fire.

While Paepae Atea is a focal point, a consistent design narrative has been incorporated throughout the broader Taupo Town Centre Transformation (TTCT) through a collaborative and iterative design process.