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Designer chosen for Domain memorial

Published: 19 February 2016

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Designer chosen for Auckland Domain WW1 centenary memorial.

Auckland Council’s plan to establish a commemorative and contemplative World War One Centenary memorial in Auckland Domain has taken a step forward with the announcement today that New Zealand firm Wraight Athfield Landscape and Architecture, in conjunction with Auckland artist Ross Hemera, will be invited to develop their concept Te Takuahi – The Hearth – into a final design.

“Council today endorsed the recommendation of the World War One Commemoration Political Steering Group, which followed a rigorous process to select an internationally recognised design consortium for this impressive new public feature for the Domain,” says Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

“There has been good feedback and public discussion about the concept. The chosen design is an open and simple concept which maintains the sanctity and open space character of the 'close' or grass area in front of the museum – something the public told us was very important.

"The council will be working further with the designers to continue to refine the design to ensure it delivers a lasting memorial that can be enjoyed by generations of Aucklanders to come,” he says.

Refinements to be investigated include the option of exploring a suitable and subtle way of connecting the new memorial with the Auckland War Memorial Museum while being careful to protect and retain the open grass area in front of the cenotaph.

“The World War One Commemoration Political Steering Group and working party will continue to work with stakeholders, iwi, Heritage NZ and the Auckland War Memorial Museum on this important project," says Sandra Coney, Chair of the World War One Commemoration Political Steering Group.

"The Auckland Domain Committee and public will be kept informed of progress as we move towards a final concept design,” she says.

Auckland Council has set aside $1 million towards the memorial. Construction is subject to additional funds being sought from NZ Lotteries and other funding sources.

About the design consortium

The design consortium will be led by New Zealand firm Wraight Athfield Landscape + Architecture, a joint venture company between Athfield Architects Limited and Wraight + Associates Ltd, with lead artist Ross Hemera.

The core design team will be supported by Davis Langdon/Aecom quantity surveyors, Dunning Thornton structural engineering consultants and eCubed lighting and electrical engineers.

Together, they have previously delivered large civic projects such as the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, the New Zealand Memorial in London’s Hyde Park and the Cenotaph Square upgrade in Wellington’s Parliamentary precinct, as well as Queenstown Post Office and Christchurch Civic Building projects for Ngai Tahu.

About the original design concept

Te Takuahi, or The Hearth, is defined by a subtle geometric disturbance in the landscape.

According to the designers: “As if formed by a swing of a toki aronui (carving chisel) a circular plane of ground is displaced, tilted against the slope of The Close lawn. On one side, this forms a terraced crescent carved into the ground, and on the other a raised crescent (a shaped ahu), sloping gently back toward the Museum and Pukekaroa Hill.”

The grounded crescent within Te Takuahi creates a sheltered refuge within the land, while the raised crescent forms a monumental presence in the landscape as it rises out of the volcanic tuff rim, gesturing back to Pukekaroa and Rangitoto. It also creates an observation platform, offering new views out through the Pohutukawa to the harbour and back to the hills.

Within Te Takuahi, a level circular space, like a giant compass point, grounds and centres this memorial in its place and time within the greater historical cultural landscape.

Subtle creases in The Close lawn define a pathway leading to Te Takuahi from the west, incorporating threshold space for mihi or greetings before visitors traverse the ‘ground shifts’ within the memorial space. The edges carved into the slope of the hill and faced with stone provide sheltered ledges to move along or sit.