Thursday, July 18, 2024

Auckland council lifts lid on Waitematā Station plaza design

Auckland Council and City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) have announced they will reinstate the plaza behind the Waitematā Station (Britomart), with work to get underway next year.

The plaza will function as an entrance and exit to the station, while also providing a place for people to meet, with easy access in and out of the central city area. The station plaza will be constructed in conjunction with the upgrade of Tyler Street, matching the design of Galway Street, completing the section between Te Komititanga and Commerce Street.

“This is the next key piece in creating a high-quality network of public and shared spaces, encompassing the Britomart precinct, the Waitematā Station, Te Komititanga, Commercial Bay, Tyler, and Galway Streets and Takutai Square,” Council said in a statement.

“This is another big milestone and will mark the end of the City Rail Link’s work at the station, as part of the major City Rail Link infrastructure project that will transform Auckland’s public transport network.”

City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney, says the temporary station buildings will be removed in the new year, making room for the reinstated plaza.

“The temporary station buildings allowed us to successfully complete some amazing world-class engineering work inside the Chief Post Office to get the Waitematā Station (Britomart) ready for CRL.”

“One job done and we are now delighted to clear the way for the plaza as the next big step for one of Auckland’s most historic buildings that will play a big part in the city’s transport future,” Dr Sweeney says.

The plaza design was developed with mana whenua and finalised following engagement with neighbouring properties, stakeholders, and the station community. It reflects the history of the Waitematā foreshore, both past and present.

Design elements include the mingling of salt with fresh water, where Te Waihorotiu meets the Waitematā, and the abundance of life. It also acknowledges that this place welcomes people from many types of waka, arriving by sea, by train and by bus.

The pavement design is inspired by the rich abundance of shellfish,​mimicking the shallows of the Waitematā Harbour with dappled light and reflective qualities.

Eight native trees will be planted around the edge of the plaza. There will also be a large central seating area and station ‘lid’ designed in partnership with mana whenua which will support the meeting of people.

The plaza is designed to be for people, with no vehicle access. Along with the trees, seats and bicycle racks, bollards will be installed around the plaza edge to prevent unauthorised vehicle access.

City Rail Ltd’s Design and Delivery Manager, Simon Lough says, “Designing the plaza presented a unique challenge as it serves as the roof of Waitematā Station, with the platforms situated below.

“This has posed limitations, particularly in terms of plant growth and water leakage from the fountain above. Despite these challenges, our design teams, in collaboration with mana whenua, have developed a design that honours the rich history of the Waitematā foreshore, incorporating both past and present elements.”

John Watson, Chair of Auckland Council’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee, says, “The reinstatement of the plaza and the upgrade to Tyler Street is the jewel in the crown for the Britomart precinct in Auckland’s central city.

“These important works are guided by the City Centre Masterplan which seeks to create a pedestrian-scale city, full of beautiful public spaces in an expanding laneway network.”

CRL will begin removing temporary structures sitting over the station early in the new year. Auckland Council is aiming to begin construction of the plaza and Tyler Street in April 2024 with likely completion early-mid 2025.

The council group is committed to managing the impacts of construction on people who are living, working, and travelling through the area.

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