VOTR a finalist for architecture award
4 September 2018
Hamilton’s Victoria on the River is a finalist in the New Zealand Institute of Architects Awards.
The amphitheatre-style riverside park was opened in January 2018 and is one of three finalists in the awards’ Planning and Urban Design category. The other finalists are two Auckland locations – Vinegar Lane and The Waterview Connection.
Hamilton City Council purchased the 4769p sqm site – previously occupied by the Waikato Times - in 2009, and committed the funding to Victoria on the River (VOTR) in late 2015. Construction began in April 2017 after more than 6300 cubic metres of contaminated material was removed from the site.
More than 9000 plants give it a green and organic feel and blend with adjacent Waikato River natural landscapes.
Maria Barrie, the Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Manager, says having Victoria on the River (VOTR) as a finalist in the award recognises the high-quality design work, led by Edwards White, which went into the site.
“Edwards White had some real challenges with this site – particularly the topography and slope down to the Waikato River, and the need to connect with our network of river paths,” she says.
“They came up with a beautiful design we were really impressed by, and which the public has responded to. It’s a great mix of materials and surfaces, and the design incorporates gently sloping paths which mean it can be used and enjoyed by people with mobility challenges as well.
“We appreciate the effort and thought Edwards White put into this design, along with the support they provided throughout the construction phase.”
Brian White, Edwards White Principal and Registered Architect, says the national awards are the pinnacle achievement in terms of architectural awards in New Zealand.
“We are really excited to have had VOTR short-listed,” Mr White says.
“VOTR presented a fresh opportunity to create meaningful visual and physical connections with one of the city’s best natural assets.”
At a macro level the design seeks to establish a park that serves two functions; as a destination where people can pause, interact and enjoy river views, and as a device linking the differing levels of the lower river path, upper promenade and Victoria St.
Mr White says the use of VOTR by individuals has been “spontaneous and unique”.
“For one person it’s a place to play, for the next a place to contemplate. A place for solitude or a place to be in community.
“We’ve seen the advent of a new market, concerts, yoga classes, boot camps, friends meeting to eat together. Children run and climb over the playable objects, the elderly sit and watch the world go by, office workers soak up the sun in their lunch hour.
“Sitting in the park and overhearing both young and old as they discover it for the first time has been a delight.
“As an architect, these projects built for the pleasure and enjoyment of the public, prove extremely satisfying to contribute to,” he says.
The 2018 New Zealand Architecture Awards will be announced at Te Papa, Wellington, on 9 November.