DAMIEN VAN BRANDENBURG

Damien van Brandenburg of Ar­chi­tec­ture van Brandenburg shares a few of his favourite real and i mag­ined Dunedin spots.

Idealog - - SECTION -

We set up our stu­dio in Dunedin 10 years ago, and one of as­pects that ini­tially drew us in has been the out­stand­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity of Dunedin – that is its ac­ces­si­bil­ity within the city, to its peo­ple, re­sources re­quired and the nat­u­ral land­scape that surrounds it.

Along with my wife Ash­leigh and our dog Lulu, I live in an in­ner city apart­ment within Dunedin, it is a con­verted brick ware­house that once was the art stu­dio of Gra­hame Syd­ney. Now it is an open-plan liv­ing space with ex­pan­sive four me­tre high win­dows pro­vid­ing us with a com­mand­ing view from the sky to the sea and the city in-be­tween. The low rise ci­tyscape with the oc­ca­sional neo-gothic spire rem­i­nis­cent of the ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage that spans from the Oc­tagon – the cen­tre of the city – down the ware­house precinct that once was the bus­tle of in­dus­try is now a tech hub with great cafes, across to the Dunedin har­bour­side docks, a di­lap­i­dated part of the city that of­fers a great op­por­tu­nity for the fu­ture of Dunedin, and be­yond the vista of the Penin­sula with its abun­dancy of wildlife. All are within a short walk, bike ride or car trip. The city holds an ar­ray of char­ac­ter and pos­si­bil­i­ties.

An­other short walk from my apart­ment is my stu­dio, and from there I can be at one of my favourite cafes, Her­itage cafe, a once derelict Art Deco style build­ing in

Vogel street that is now a re­vi­talised part of Dunedin. The café has re­cently been ren­o­vated and re­ju­ve­nated. The build­ing has re­tained its orig­i­nal ex­te­rior char­ac­ter, but the mod­ernised in­te­rior al­lows for the meet­ing of minds, and a so­cial hub of en­gage­ment. Adding to the at­mos­phere of the in­te­rior court­yard is a na­ture in­spired mu­ral by my good friend, San Fran­cisco based artist Ian Ross, who has com­pleted works around the world and was pleased to be a part of the rapidly grow­ing Dunedin mu­ral art scene (com­plete with a self-guided tour around all the other mu­rals within the CBD). Ian and I col­lab­o­rated on a se­ries of sculp­tures that were on ex­hi­bi­tion in San Fran­cisco and then re­cip­ro­cated in Dunedin.

Of­ten I stroll through Queens Gar­dens lead­ing me to an­other one of my favourite places, the Dunedin Rail­way Sta­tion and on a Satur­day morn­ing the Otago Farm­ers Mar­ket. These two cre­ate a junc­ture po­si­tion of the for­malised Re­nais­sance Re­vival ar­chi­tec­ture, flanked by the in­for­mal na­ture of the tem­po­rary mar­kets. This vi­brant space, once the busiest sta­tion in New Zealand han­dling up to 100 trains a day, is now on a Satur­day morn­ing trans­formed into one of the most so­cially and densely pop­u­lated ur­ban spa­ces within the city. En­joy­ment over cof­fee, live mu­sic and fresh pro­duce al­lows for lo­cals and vis­i­tors to con­nect and en­gage in con­ver­sa­tions with sea­sonal pro­duce un­der ones arm.

From here, cross­ing over rail­way lines, and a by­pass road, a short dis­tance from the CBD is the South­ern Steamer Basin. A once pro­duc­tive part of the city and lo­cal econ­omy, it is now sev­ered from the city, the di­lap­i­dated in­let gives in­sight into its past and presents an op­por­tu­nity for the fu­ture of Dunedin. I, along with Ian Tay­lor (An­i­ma­tion Re­search), the Dunedin City Coun­cil, Otago Re­gional Coun­cil, Port Otago and lo­cal Ru­naka, have cre­ated a mas­ter­plan vi­sion for the South­ern Steamer Basin. The in­tent of the Dunedin Har­bour Vi­sion is to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble built environment, an ex­em­plar that re­spects the past, by in­ter­weav­ing our cul­ture and builds for a bet­ter fu­ture.

One of the key ac­cesses for pedes­trian and cy­clists into the har­bour is via the pro­posed frond bridge. This con­nects the city to the har­bour, travers­ing both rail­way and road and links in with the ex­ist­ing cy­cle net­works. The span­ning bridge will be flanked with leaf-like ‘so­lar petals’ ei­ther side of the bridge cross­ing. The fronds will be clad with PVC so­lar pan­els, the leaf petals will re­spond to the sun, ro­tat­ing and track­ing the sun’s path through­out the day to gen­er­ate the max­i­mum amount of so­lar energy, this can be har­nessed to light the bridge and power the venue spa­ces be­low the abut­ment. This will cel­e­brate the cross­ing from the city to the har­bour and pro­vide the tone of ex­pec­ta­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious as­pects of the built environment.

Marine Re­search cen­tre:

The de­sign of the Marine Re­search cen­tre is sym­bolic of a fluke of a South­ern Right Whale breach­ing above the sea. This is a re­minder that South­ern Right Whales that calved in the Dunedin Har­bour, prior to Euro­pean in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion. The Marine re­search cen­tre is in­tended to be a cen­tre for ex­cel­lence in Marine re­search and En­vi­ron­men­tal re­search pro­vid­ing ac­cess to the South­ern oceans. The skele­tal form will have glazed pan­els be­tween the por­tal ribs. It is in­tended that the north­ern side will have so­lar pan­els be­tween the por­tal ribs and the south­ern side will have clear glazed win­dows.

Mixed-use Waka com­plex:

The de­sign is based on an ab­strac­tion of the tra­di­tional ver­nac­u­lar dou­ble hulled Waka that sailed within Otago, this forms an ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre, of­fice spa­ces and apart­ments. The rooftop gar­den will be semi-en­closed with a so­lar canopy pro­vid­ing pas­sive so­lar and wa­ter col­lec­tion to be used within the build­ing for res­i­dents.

5 st ar Ho­tel:

The ho­tel con­sists of two low rise build­ings re­duc­ing the im­pact of so­lar shad­ing.

Sit­u­ated on a cur­rently re­claimed area of the Steamer basin, the pair of build­ings have been ar­ranged around an area of land that is in­tended to be re­turned to the sea. A ges­ture sim­i­lar to the first catch of tra­di­tional Māori fish­ing voy­ages, this will cre­ate a la­goon be­tween the two ho­tel wings and wa­ter views from all rooms. The top floor would be an en­closed bio­sphere roof gar­den pro­vid­ing a flour­ish­ing green space all year round, this would be a breath­ing ecosys­tem that cir­cu­lates fresh air into the rest of the ho­tel com­plex. All wa­ter col­lected from the glazed roof gar­den would be used to ir­ri­gate the bio­sphere in­ter­nal gar­den.

Cul­ture Cen­tre:

The Cul­ture cen­tre is an ab­stract ref­er­ence to the Otago cock­les. The en­vi­ron­men­tal de­sign in­tent of the shells is to pro­vide a large sur­face area to em­bed PVC pan­els onto the ex­ter­nal sur­face cre­at­ing a so­lar sync for pas­sive so­lar gain and an in­ter­nal space ded­i­cated to the arts.

Close by, the Otago Penin­sula is the place where I find most of my in­spi­ra­tion. Here, travers­ing hills and costal stretches on my bi­cy­cle, I’m con­tin­u­ally wowed by the na­tive flora and fauna: pen­guins, seals, dol­phins and whales are reg­u­larly vis­i­ble. I have even come across an al­ba­tross in the cen­tre of the road with its out­stretched wing span greater than mine re­mind­ing me that we are vis­i­tors to their habi­tat and we are for­tu­nate to share this coast­line with some of the most beau­ti­ful wildlife that New Zealand has to of­fer – all of this ac­ces­si­ble from the city of Dunedin. Here I love show­ing off to vis­i­tors the abun­dant kaimoana, that in the right spots you can bury your hands in the sand and pull up hand­fuls of clams and en­joy a pic­nic on the beach with some of the most fresh seafood one can ex­pe­ri­ence, a re­minder of the nat­u­ral world and how this can in­spire de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture alike.

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