A decade ago, the first phase of work at Kumutoto tied the waterfront back to the city and acknowledged the history and cultural importance of the area. Ten years later, Kumutoto stage two is underway, a new public space development catalysed by the construction of a new building on Site 10, and proposals for Site 9, that will provide additional ways to enjoy Wellington waterfront.
Stage two, North Kumutoto, extends the laneway, tracing the historic sea wall past the two new commercial buildings. At the water’s edge, a new open space – occupying ‘Site 8’ of Wellington waterfront framework – extends Isthmus’s original work on Kumutoto Plaza. As with stage one, the new work explores the interaction between water and land. It was conceived as a reinterpretation of Wellington’s wharves,the public space ‘floating’ above the coastal edge to shield and create habitats for flora and fauna (including kororā – little blue penguins).
The original success of Kumutoto’s design is derived from both its flexibility and the way it incorporates the characteristics and materiality of the pre-existing working waterfront. Although new at the time, it was also familiar and appropriate. Stage two also adheres to this theme.
North Kumutoto is a series of flexible public spaces providing new opportunities for leisure activities and a chance to get right down to the water. A key piece of the work is the folded-timber deck that transitions seamlessly into with a small pavilion – a place for shade and partial shelter; respite from the elements. The pavilion, with its playful design and warm surface textures is composed of a matrix of timber battens formed into cassettes and attached to steel-lattice trusses.
In total, the matrix consists of 9,860 cedar battens – almost 18km of timber secured by 80,000 screws! – which hover lightly overhead before cascading down the pavilion edge – a carefully orchestrated move that preserves unobstructed views of Wellington’s harbour.