An ambitious urban infrastructure project in Auckland, New Zealand, known as The Waterview Connection, unconventionally put people, not cars at the forefront of its design.
Designed by New Zealand-based architects Warren and Mahoney, alongside Boffa Miskell and the Well Connected Alliance, the structures of the Waterview Connection are crafted to reflect the city’s distinct volcanic landscape and Māori culture.
Waterview Connection is shortlisted for an award at this month’s World Architecture Festival in the Transport category, recognised in particular for its combination of beauty and functional design.
Consisting of twin tunnels and connecting infrastructure, the project represented a major change in travel patterns for Aucklanders. But Warren and Mahoney’s Tom Locke says Waterview Connection is “so much more than a road tunnel”.
“We had an opportunity to redefine what infrastructure can deliver with the application of thoughtful architecture.
“There was a big focus on getting stories from the public and preserving history. By listening to the local community and putting people first, we were able to positively contribute to the surrounding environment and bind the community together.”
As well as the motorway elements of the project, the team created green spaces, walking tracks, children’s playgrounds and a network of shared paths for cycling and walking in the surrounding area.
The Hendon pedestrian bridge, Te Whitinga, references Auckland’s volcanic cones and dramatically stitches back together a community that found itself on either side of the motorway.
Locke says aspects of the motorway corridor, including the retaining walls and structures, were designed to closely reflect the nearby landscape and Māori culture.
“Retaining walls and building facades reference the striated basalt columns from the lava flows which criss-cross the site while the ventilation stacks are inspired by the angular, faceted forms of Māori agricultural tools.
“The stacks are reimagined as symbolic Māori ‘pou’, to mark the tunnel entries as places of significance in the land. Artwork and sculptural gestures relate to the stories of the area’s Māori history.”
Waterview Connection opened to excited acclaim in July 2017, something Locke puts in part down to extensive community involvement.
“Over a six-year process involving more than 10,000 people, we were able to combine our understanding of built structure with the values and needs of the community.
“As a result, we were able to create one of the New Zealand’s most humane pieces of infrastructure”.
The Waterview Connection was delivered by Warren and Mahoney, in partnership with Boffa Miskell and the Well-Connected Alliance Team (comprising New Zealand Transport Agency, Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell Constructors, Parsons Brinkerhoff NZ, Beca Infrastructure, Tokin and Taylor and Obayashi Corporation).
About Warren and Mahoney
Warren and Mahoney is an international architectural design practice with a strong focus on social and cultural identity. Its work addresses the ways that architecture, by capturing and expressing local identity, can reflect and strengthen communities. It is a multi-disciplinary practice whose core services include architecture, interior design and workplace design, with additional expertise in strategy and briefing, customer experience design, urban design, master planning and sustainable design.
Founded in Christchurch in 1955, the practice today employs almost 300 staff across seven locations: Auckland, Christchurch, Tauranga, Wellington, Queenstown, Sydney and Melbourne. Its most renowned projects include the New Zealand Supreme Court, Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct, Christchurch Town Hall, Te Toki a Rata Building, Victoria University of Wellington, Memorial Bridge and the Commercial Bay development, now underway on Auckland’s waterfront.