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Khartoum Place takes a step up

16 May 2006

Khartoum Place takes a step up

Mayor of Auckland City, Dick Hubbard, today unveiled a new design for Khartoum Place that includes the renowned tile artwork Women's Centenary Wahine whakatu (1893 -1993), a memorial commemorating one of the most important milestones in New Zealand's history.

The artwork was destined for removal following a design competition last year for the inner city open space.

"We have been guilty as a city of not placing enough value on our built heritage," said Mayor Hubbard. "The message has come through loud and clear. People are saying 'there are parts of our city that we are proud of and we want to protect'."

The artwork, celebrating the suffragette movement, was unveiled in 1993 by Irish President Mary Robinson and Govenor General Dame Catherine Tizard in Auckland's CBD.

As part of the council's multi-million dollar upgrade of the CBD, the public were invited to give their feedback on 12 selected designs for the inner city open space last year but none of the designs included the tiled artwork.

Options were discussed with the artists for relocation of the tiles or a possible new artwork at a high profile CBD site but it was established that the tiles could not survive relocation.

This became a matter of public interest and concern.

The Mayor suggested a new design brief for Khartoum Place be developed that included the memorial.

"The debate is not about who likes the tiles and who doesn't," Mr Hubbard said. "It is about saving a slice of our history and preserving something that has emotional significance for a large number of New Zealanders."

The new design includes many new features which will encourage people to use the space and visit the memorial to the suffragettes.

The elements of the new concept are: * preservation of the tiled artwork * a new set of straight stairs alongside the switch-back stairs that currently exist * re-newing the current set of stairs to improve safety (new materials and hand rail) * new lighting and street furniture.

The concept designs will be available for public feedback from 16 May to 4 June 2006.

People can view a display of the design in the entrance to the New Gallery on the corner of Lorne and Wellesley streets during the consultation period. Feedback postcards will be available there, or people can visit www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/cbd to give more detailed feedback.

Ends Note to editors about the new concept design: The Khartoum Place concept design seeks to create a better connection between the upper and lower levels whilst preserving the Women's Centenary (1893 - 1993) tile artwork. A new flight of steps is introduced that is more prominent when looking from Lorne Street encouraging people to walk up to Kitchener Street and the art gallery. The new stairs remove an existing blank wall so the mural is unaffected. The tiles are extended onto a side wall of the stair and the upper central section.

The upper section is raised to the Kitchener Street level outside the entry to the John Leech Gallery. This creates a usable space at the place that receives the most sunlight and will visually extend across to the forecourt of the gallery. Ramps around the level space provide an accessible route to the New Gallery and other businesses.

The lower level receives little sunlight so new paving is a lighter colour than the Lorne Street paving is proposed. A contrasting basalt path leads to the steps. Raised planters around the two plane trees house root structures and provide seating. Louvered screens and specially designed lighting are proposed to improve safety in the rear corners of the level.

Elements within Khartoum Place are designed to reinforce the "Walk of Art" concept. A series of plinths at both levels could accommodate changing sculptures and lighting poles can allow banners encouraging exploration of the space and adjoining galleries.

ENDS

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