Leith Macfarlane 3 YOU HAVE ARRIVED

  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Julie Stout, Lynda Simmons
  • School
    University of Auckland

Reimagining Aotea Square's Metro Centre and how it could be redesigned as an integral part of Auckland City’s urban landscape was daunting to begin with. What was once home to heavy hitters like Planet Hollywood, Borders and Tommy Hilfiger is now a dark, redundant and relatively lost space. So how might we reimagine the Metro Centre as a place where people can come together to connect, experience and learn?

The principles underpinning the proposed design included YOU HAVE ARRIVED, THE BUILDING IS A STORY and UPLIFT ME.

YOU HAVE ARRIVED - Based on early conceptual models with acrylic, the Wai Horotiu stream that once rushed down the hill from Karangahape Road through Myers Park and Aotea Square, is architecturalised as a dramatic entrance and main point of circulation. Encased in water-like glass, it spills users out into main gathering area, pooling onto the open rooftop and feeding out to Bledislow Lane, where a high line continues to connect to the Victoria Street Greenlink.

The building also lets you know it's arrived; stripped back to its original steel structural bones, wrapped in glass and tied together with five big pink steel beams, entrance colonnades that ground the building saying – I’ve arrived and this is what I’ve got to offer.

THE BUILDING IS A STORY -The building sits at the heart of the “performance” area of the city, so it was important to speak to storytelling but not in a traditional sense. The transparent facade blurs the line between audience and performer – are those inside the building performers or are they watching the world outside, or vice versa? The use of pink danpalon to dress smaller and more private meeting and workshop spaces generates a layer of privacy but enough to see movement and shadow beneath. And then there are actual stages. The transplendent yellow dome and pink stairs that can be for the audience or the band performing out onto Aotea Square – turning the whole building into an elevated stage.

And finally the building’s colours tell the story of sustainability – new additions are coloured and the original building structure remains white and grey.

UPLIFT ME - Users and the mid-city area deserve an uplifting, positive, respectful and inclusive space. The upper levels float and the exposed steel structure and recessed glazing dissolves the line between city and building, the playful coloured objects within peaking your interest. And the spaces themselves uplift users – big open performance spaces, the urban gallery on the top floor and the flexible open roof top. All on top of the "Local Lab", full of emerging artists that spill out into the exposed ground floor.

The reimagined spaces of the historic Fergusson building include a pay what you can eatery, a satellite library that turns from books to bar in the evening, and the resplendent yellow dome. Underground sits community rehearsal spaces and a rec centre. The two buildings speak across a public laneway and connect through the elevated Wai Horotui bridge.