Kim Mi Yeoh Kim Mi Yeoh

  • Tauira / Student
    Kim Mi Yeoh
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Gregor Hoheisel
  • School
    The University of Auckland

Rā is a business hotel with corporate conference and event facilities, targeting the business clientele of the Marine Industry and beyond. While the name's significance has various translations in Te Reo Māori, Rā is symbolic of the woven 'Sail' of Aotearoa's traditional maritime vessel, the ocean-going waka.

There is extensive urban redevelopment taking place in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter. Eke Panuku strives to establish a community enriched with activities that link people to the city and sea. Along with the vision for retail, residential and commercial growth, there is a strong inclination to retain and celebrate the Wynyard precinct's rich Pacific culture and marine industry. The hotel proposal for Rā is situated beside Silo Park at the waterfront location, Site 18.

An essential aspect of the hotel concept design brief was the concept of narrative. Rā draws from the nautical origins of the site, acknowledging Eke Panuku's urban plans to preserve the maritime service of Site 18. Rā drew narrative inspiration from various displays at the NZ Maritime Museum, which honoured the primitive craftsmanship and textile innovation of Aotearoa's aboriginal people. The woven sail of the ocean-going waka is symbolic of Polynesian seafaring; it was the critical element that carried courageous explorers over the vast Pacific Ocean to the Land of the Long White Cloud. Throughout the hotel design, there is a range of scales in which the design evokes woven qualities. The plan's spatial layout is informed by a simplified woven pattern imitating how each flax laps over another. The use of louvers simulate weaving on a human scale serving for not only visual appeal, but also as shading devices, privacy screens, and green facades.

Rā features a vast, sun-lit atrium that is shaped by the elements of biophilic design to generate a relaxing ambience, lessening the stress of the business clientele. Greenery is integrated into both the interior and exterior. Green walls breathe life into the internal spaces, from the extensive atrium to the intimate guestroom corridors and conference facilities. The 10-storey building form steps up and back as the levels stack, revealing green roofs that retain and collect stormwater. Water features are a connective medium embraced throughout the hotel; from the porte cochere through the atrium to the waterfront landscaping. The sound of water resonates throughout the hotel complex.

Rā is designed with the business clientele in mind as an ocean-oriented building that weaves together biophilic elements. Guests are taken on a voyage through the architecture to discover new spaces and be immersed in moments of comfort, focus, excitement and luxury.