Isthmus

Coast |

Together apart.
Devonport Wharf
& Marine Square.

Approach

A strong axis between ferry building, village and the volcanic dome of Mount Victoria Takarunga is the organising principle at Devonport, however it is history and identity, connecting infrastructure and placing people first that ensures on-going success.

Above Devonport, circa 1913, with the ferry wharf and beach in the foreground. The Esplanade Hotel is on the left, the volcanic cone of Mount Victoria Takarunga is in the background, and the township of Devonport is in the middle ground.

Right This design diagram shows the creation of a strong axis between the water and the village, with Mount Victoria as the large organising element in the geography.

Devonport occupies a strategic location at the entrance to the inner Waitematā Harbour – its volcanic cones were hilltop pā long before the Royal Navy established its first barracks – but as a suburb, it retains a relaxed, village-like feel.

However, without improvements for a number of years, the currency and vibrancy of the township had been undermined. The wharf-to-town connection, in particular was compromised, and the redevelopment of the wharf and improved connections to Victoria Road, the main street, had been scheduled for a long time.

Above Devonport Ferry Terminal, 1955, shows the skewed connection with the town. Passengers disembark into a car park.

Left Sketch of the ferry wharf. The thick timber balustrade strengthens the line of the axis. In scale and proportion, the balustrade can be read as an abstract maritime form, such as a waka or the hull of the historic Kestrel, which still plies these waters. It is intended as a beautifully crafted element that picks up on ideas of boat-building.

Above Seating elements at Marine Square were designed for the space. They sit alongside a ‘kiss and ride’ drop-off spot for commuters arriving by car. Cobbled areas define vehicle zones and, while the general paving is the same grey basalt as that used in the city, additional detail is provided through narrow bands.

Historically, Marine Square had been a significant landing point for iwi, and ferries today continue the ebb and flow of arrival and departure. The ferry terminal presents at an angle to the city, forming a wedge that is framed by the beginning of the promenade. This strong lineal device expresses the significance of the ongoing transition between land and sea, but to reinforce the concept in a more literal way, a sculptural anchor stone is built into a key point of the pathway, a fulcrum for the space.

To further strengthen the relationship between Marine Square and the village, a strong organising gesture was required. A custom-designed timber balustrade now forms a thick edge to the walkway. Subtly, this timber device keys into the essence of marine architecture, the tactility of the joinery, and the ability to wear and weather well in its wet, salty environment.

“The balustrade is a weighted line, a strong edge, something to run your fingers along as you walk the path to town. However, if you look more closely, you can see that the apparent weight is a deception. There is a fineness to the construction that allows light and water to come into view.”

— Evan Williams, Isthmus

The direct new path between town and terminal responds clearly to the needs of ferry users. As pedestrians enter the terminal from the east, the wedge of boardwalk creates an eddy space that is strongly connected with the building. The nearby square has been calmed, with a shared space placing pedestrians at the top of the transport hierarchy. The overall success of this space was achieved through attention to the detail of the low-key surface materials. And, overall, by removing decades worth of urban and transport clutter around the wharf and ferry terminal, and by contributing a new infrastructure that floats above the sparkling waters of the Waitematā, a meaningful and purposeful connection between the wharf and township has been established.

Team Members
David Irwin, Andrew Mirams, Alan England, Matt Jones, Travis McGee,
Past Team Members

Evan Williams, Danbi Park, George Woolford, Grace He, Karen Ehlers

Concept Design
Jasmax (ferry terminal building)
Sills van Bohemen (public realm)

Consultant Team
Tonkin & Taylor
Traffic Design Group
WT Partnership
Beca

Contractor
Downer

Client
Auckland Council
Auckland Transport