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Australian practices compete to design landmark Auckland tower

Australian developer ICD Property has unveiled the five competing designs for a landmark mixed-use tower in the New Zealand city of Auckland.

The developer invited five architecture practices to participate in a competition to design a hotel and apartment complex at 65-71 Federal Street in Auckland’s city centre which neighbours the city’s iconic Sky Tower – the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The site is currently occupied by a seven-storey car park.

The proposal for Federal Street by Cox Architecture.

The proposal for Federal Street by Cox Architecture.

Three Australian practices – Cox Architecture, Woods Bagot and Elenberg Fraser – are competing against local New Zealand practice Warren and Mahoney and London-based Zaha Hadid Architects for the project, which will be ICD Property’s first outside of Australia.

Cox Architecture proposed a building form that tapers outwards as it rises. Its slender shape is derived from the local Kauri tree with its podium inspired by the Mt Eden land formation in the city.

The tall tower is intended to be experienced in the round. “This is a strong-profiled building that will really change the view and the idea of the way people see Auckland beyond just the casino tower,” said Cox Architecture director Philip Rowe.

Woods Bagot’s scheme, designed with Peddle Thorp NZ, draws from the geology of the region as well as local flora and fauna. It proposes an assemblage of two buildings that will create a streetscape with a laneway through the site.

The proposal for Federal Street by Woods Bagot.

The proposal for Federal Street by Woods Bagot.

“Echoing New Zealand’s inimitable geology, Federal Street has been imagined as a natural formation. The building sits gracefully within the skyline’s silhouette and the internal experience has been carefully curated to suit the city’s needs,” said Peter Miglis, principal of Woods Bagot. “Sightlines to culturally significant landmarks, the height of the streetscape, pedestrian connectivity to key destinations and Auckland’s weather have all been carefully considered in order to create a structure that could only sit within this particular skyline”

The forest and the dormant volcanoes on which the city is founded inspire Elenberg Fraser’s scheme. The scheme proposes to lift the bulk of the building 20 metres off the ground in order to create a pocket park in the city with rare and endangered species trees and plants from a forest that once occupied the site. A series of bay windows with curved glass that will define the hotel rooms at the lower levels of the building and the apartments at the upper levels, which will create a bundled tube formation for the tower.

The proposal for Federal Street by Elenberg Fraser.

The proposal for Federal Street by Elenberg Fraser.

New Zealand practice Warren and Mahoney set themselves the challenge of creating “Auckland’s first real skyline story.” The scheme takes inspiration from a indigenous woven cloak often worn by political leaders and sporting elite as a symbol of achievement, excellence and nationhood. “The idea that emerged for was […] specifically the korowai,” said Warren and Mahoney principal Blair Johnston.

The proposal for Federal Street by Warren and Mahoney.

The proposal for Federal Street by Warren and Mahoney.

“We image the built form on Federal Street standing proudly on the ridge line shoulders back, eyes up staring out towards Waitematā Harbour – a true symbol of this place.”
The proposal for Federal Street by Zaha Hadid Architects.

The proposal for Federal Street by Zaha Hadid Architects.

The tower’s facade will have a sloping top which gestures towards the harbour and a podium designed like a layered sedimentary cliff face.

Finally, Zaha Hadid Architects’ tower design is a composition of “soft boxes,” with a sky forest half way up the tower that will accommodate pools and restaurant.

“Auckland’s ambition and vision for the future must cater for everyone in the city, and in that respect mixed-use projects and plenty of publicly accessible spaces will be the most successful,” said Michele Pasca di Magliano, associate director of Zaha Hadid Architects.

The practices were each asked to design two versions for their proposal.

“The first design will be compliant to current planning restrictions, but given the quality of the architects, will still be impressive and exciting. While the second design will demonstrate what could be achieved under more generous planning and focus on creating a distinct urban landmark statement in the centre of Auckland.” said Matthew Khoo, deputy managing director of ICD Property.

The winner will be announced in October.

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