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Award honours creative public building

26 July 2005

Award honours creative public building

A new visitor centre at the Auckland Botanic Gardens has won a prestigious award from Creative New Zealand.

The visitor centre, Huakaiwaka, has won the 2005 Creative Places Award, Built Environment: City and Regional Councils. The centre was officially opened on 9 April this year, after many years of hard work involving people from all sectors of the community.

Deputy Chair of the Auckland Regional Council, Christine Rose, expressed her delight that a building which integrates art into the built and natural environment, has been recognised at such a high level.

“From the start, the building design team wanted to develop a creative, aesthetic setting in which visitors could enjoy the world of plants,” she says.

“Huakaiwaka has provided a dynamic focal point for the Auckland Botanic Gardens, and it is attracting a wide range of visitors not only from within the Auckland region, but from other parts of the country and from overseas.”

Cr Rose says the visitor centre was developed in consultation with local groups including iwi and the local community to identify themes and artists for the project. As a result, three significant art commissions have been installed in the visitor centre: ‘Manu Torino’, ‘Nikau’ and ‘Kauri’.

“It is hoped that over time, many more art works will find a home at the Botanic Gardens.”

Cr Rose says that since its opening in April, Huakaiwaka has provided the wow factor for the gardens arrival area and transformed visitors’ arrival experience.

“Visitors are drawn through the building, which provides a gateway to the gardens, and the building has become a destination in itself.

“It shows the real potential of art to add value to architecture, public facilities and the region’s parks, in a cost effective way.”

Cr Rose says the ARC, which manages the Auckland Botanic Gardens, is now looking for a retailer to operate out of the visitor centre which attracts 500,000-plus visitors each year.

“Visitors have told us the opportunity to purchase souvenirs and other merchandise at the Botanic Gardens should be a priority,” she says.

“The ARC has 94.7 square metres available for a retailer to fully express themselves in both fit-out and merchandise, while complementing the ultra-modern design of the building.”

The visitor centre is open 8.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 4pm weekends.

ENDS

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