Coast |

Folded planes.
North Kumutoto.


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 complete, a new public space development catalysed by the construction of a new building on Site 10, and proposals for Site 9, that offer new ways to enjoy Wellington’s waterfront.

Above from left Wharf Alignment, Street Extensions, Laneway ‘Micro’ Architecture, Building Decks.

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).

Above Little blue penguin habitat.

A matrix of timber cedar battens (almost 18km worth) are formed into cassettes and attached to steel-lattice trusses.


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.

“A beautiful level of craftsmanship and detail with an underlying Pacific feel. The form and scale of the building wraps and envelopes you providing a wonderful communal aspect with the large tables at the threshold of the land and sea. Crafted urban infrastructure.”

— Best Awards citation

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.

Left The folded timber deck ‘floats’ above the coastal edge.

In total, the matrix consists of 9,860 cedar battens which hover lightly overhead before cascading down the pavilion edge – a carefully orchestrated move that preserves unobstructed views of Wellington’s harbour.

Team Members
Sophie Jacques, Aaron Miller, Andre de Graaf, James Pattullo, Ralph Johns, Andrew Mirams, Brad Coombs,
Past Team Members

Earl Rutherford, Michael Strack, Daniel Males, Stefan Beconcini

Tonkin & Taylor

Peryer Construction Ltd.

Wellington Waterfront


NZIA National Architecture Awards, Planning & Urban Design
NZIA Wellington Architecture Awards, Winner, Public Architecture
NZIA Wellington Architecture Awards, Winner, Resene Colour Award

Timber Awards, Winner, Exterior Innovation
Best Awards, Gold Pin, Public & Institutional Spaces