Critics slate Aotea Square plan
Early designs for Aotea Square’s $25 million revamp have been dismissed as “stark” and “average”.
Aucklanders can have a say next month on draft plans for the upgrade, part of the $80m civic carpark repair project.
But Auckland city councillor Cathy Casey has panned the design, calling it a “stark concrete jungle”.
“It doesn’t even say Auckland, it could be anywhere in the world,” she says.
“For me, Aotea Square is not just a flat square of concrete for public events.
“It can and should be a beautiful and interesting place for adults and children.”
The draft proposal leaves the square an open space surrounded by seating and trees, capable of holding events for up to 20,000 people.
The grassed area remains but becomes terraced, with views back to the main square.
The new carpark roof will raise the ground level by about a metre, resulting in changes to entrances from Queen St and Aotea Centre.
Most existing trees will be removed during repairs, and decisions over which to return will be made with public input.
Heart of the City chief ex- ecutive Alex Swney says the plan is a “pretty average outcome”.
“Clearly price was the driver, rather than inspiration,” he says.
“Surely we want something we can be proud of and I’m not sure this fits the bill.”
Mr Swney says a master plan for the whole Aotea precinct, allowing for future rail and bus links, should be settled before the square design is finalised.
The draft was approved by councillors at the council’s arts, culture and recreation meeting on Wednesday last week.
Committee chairman Greg Moyle says the plan creates an important open space where large civic events can be held.
“It’s very much a gathering place as opposed to a park,” he says.
“When you think about the inner city there are not many places we could have those events.”
The key details of the design will be decided with public consultation, Mr Moyle says.
“What’s negotiable is the stuff people really care about, the trees, the seating, the artworks, the flowerbeds.
“We only get the chance to do this once, let’s do it right.”
The square’s five public artworks will be removed during repairs and Mr Moyle says he’s keen to see them return.
But Terry Stringer’s large sculpture, Mountain Fountain, is unlikely to keep its prominent position in the square.
Locations are yet to be found for other key artworks as well, including statues of Sir Dove-Myer Robinson and Lord Auckland.
The council could not release drawings as designs are still at an early stage.
More detailed plans will be approved by a sub-committee including mayor John Banks before being released for public consultation in July.