Kumutoto, situated at the northern-most end of Wellington’s waterfront, is the last of the central city waterfront precincts to be redeveloped. Named after a former pa and ancient stream running under the reclaimed land, Kumutoto was originally masterplanned by Studio Pacific before design development of the open space was undertaken in association with Isthmus Group.
The design approach identified and drew on the site’s key characteristics: the wharf ‘promenade’, the Kumutoto stream, the city grid, and the harbour. The extension of Wharf Plaza seeks to expand the city grid through a new fixed wharf and a floating pontoon. At Kumutoto Plaza itself, the stream is revealed and celebrated by pulling the edge of the water back into the city, declaiming the former carpark and creating a stream mouth. Following the path of the original stream, a series of terraces spill down to the water’s edge. To strengthen the connection between city and sea, the historic wharf gates have been opened, gentle ramps introduced, and new pedestrian crossings directly to the site installed.
Historically the wharf surface was covered in timber setts that had been subsequently buried under layers of asphalt, and these were carefully recycled and re-laid, embedding the site’s history in its surface. Other surface materials used throughout the precinct, such as exposed aggregate concrete, honed concrete and asphalt, were selected for their texture and robustness. Large precast kerbstones along the new laneway also make reference to the old sea wall adjacent to the historic waterfront Sheds.
A sequence of light-pole structures, trees and seats create a procession between the city and the harbour, offering a variety of opportunities for occupation and movement. The seats themselves, made of large flat timber rafts that float on top of concrete bases, are reminiscent of Harbour Board skids. Pohutukawa, the hardy natives of coastal areas, are set in a scattered grid of square planters.
A new sculptural bridge, replacing a section of ageing promenade, is suspended low across the water, with its weight resting at one end on a piled cradle structure. The south end is supported and framed by a tapering pair of concrete columns recalling a tower crane. This crane structure, visible from Lambton Quay, acts like a beacon, drawing passers-by along the path of the ancient stream into the precinct, where they can wander through, pause and enjoy Kumutoto’s striking spaces at the very edge of the city, opening out into the bowl of the harbour.Location: Wellington, New Zealand Architect: Studio Pacific Architecture Awards:
Winner International Federation of Landscape Architects Award, Asia Pacific Region, 2010
Winner New Zealand Institute of Architects Local Award, 2008
Winner New Zealand Contractors Federation Hirepool Construction Award, 2008
Winner New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Supreme Award, 2008
Winner New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Gold Award, 2008
Winner Wellington/Wairarapa Contractors Federation Award, 2008
Winner Award of Excellence, IES Lighting Awards, 2008