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Oriental Bay Urban Design

The amenity block is part of a wider redevelopment of Oriental Bay undertaken by the Wellington City Council.

Located next to the Freyberg beach, the structure is positioned against a band-sawn kauri pier that extends from the street out into the harbour. This project ‘to polish the jewel in Wellington’s crown’ (as the Request for Proposal put it) primarily involved adding coastal control structures to maintain a larger city beach.

The storm water system was also replaced and new larger outfalls, which did not flow across the sand had to be integrated with the beach control structures. The Oriental Parade promenade, which follows the line of the heritage sea wall, had to be upgraded and new amenities added to an already overcrowded space. Architecture Workshop collaborated with Tonkin and Taylor, civil and coastal engineers, and the Isthmus Landscape group.

A continuous glue-laminated pinus radiata lamella was draped over the concrete roof. The lamella folds down to form a vertical wall to shield the entry to the unisex toilets from the new pier and beach beyond. The ends are stepped to show the materiality of the glue-lam and the end grain is protected with red paint. The glue-lam was fabricated by Hunters and treated with Drydens Wood Oil. The timber wall filters the coloured neon lights at night, which are activated when the WC is in use.

The construction height is kept to a minimum for the amenities block so as not to interrupt view lines from the promenade. This low scale combined with the vertical emphasis of the timber colonnade acknowledges the architectural quality of the Freyburg Pool building behind (it also allows an elevated urban plaza to proceed in the future).

This award-winning project is an exceptional addition to Oriental Bay that wraps utilitarian facilities in a beautiful timber skin.


Supreme Award for Architecture
New Zealand Institute of Architects Resene 2006

Highly Commended -Outdoor Infrastructure
NZ Wood Timber Design Awards 2009: