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Botany Town Centre Sculpture

Botany Town Centre Sculpture Pays Tribute To The Environment

An expression of native New Zealand as witnessed by the disappearing kauri tree has been captured in a massive sculpture. The sculpture will form the centrepiece in East Auckland’s $180 million Botany Town Centre’s Conservatory building.

AMP Henderson Global Investments commissioned well-known Auckland sculptor, Virginia King, to create the major artwork – simply titled Forest Canopy – to reflect the Botany Town Centre development’s integration with the environment.

"It’s a very specific artwork made for the Conservatory. I was consulted at any early stage, before building began, and plans were made to integrate the sculpture with the space," says King.

"The Conservatory is a large roofed space at the heart of Botany Town Centre. It’s great to see how people respond the Forest Canopy when they walk in.

"The adults automatically look up, and the children look down at what’s on the floor," she says, referring to the 34 metres diameter octagonal floor surface that has been designed to resemble a forest floor.

The floor of the Botany Town Centre Conservatory is inlaid with bronze native tree leaves, kauri snails, eels and lizards – across which two streams appear to meander.

A border of inlaid exotic tree leaves –which allude to, and include – old and new immigrants to New Zealand, completes the Forest Canopy sculpture.

"When people moved to New Zealand they brought seeds and trees with them to remind them of their old country, and I wanted to include that with leaves from the three major continents," says King.

King created suspended kauri forest canopy five and a half metres above the floor, with the largest part of the artwork rising to 15 metres above ground level.

Laser cut aluminium and filigreed macrocarpa forms are attached to tapering ‘trunks’ of aluminium rod, which move in the natural air currents of the Conservatory.

"The work creates complex patterns of moving shadow, very much like the effect of sunlight and trees in a real forest. Part of the illusion is achieved using computer programmed spotlights to colour wash the sculpture," says King.

Using three fern frond photographs – from the collection of well-known Kiwi photographer Robin Morrison – King built up a collage for the ventilation duct screens intended to capture the almost reverent atmosphere of a kauri forest.

The sounds and imagery of birds form an integral part of the sculpture, together with the silver shades of aluminium, the colour of kauri trees.

"Throughout the sculpture the aluminium gets lighter by weight and colour, because I wanted the artwork to appear to disappear – to echo the loss of our kauri trees through logging and other factors," says King.

Other works by King include the collaborative Rewarewa Creek Foot Bridge in New Lynn and the Tree of Life sculpture at the Auckland University of Technology in Wellesley Street in Auckland.

Botany Town Centre Marketing Manager Julie Barber is pleased with the way in which the installation integrates elements of local fauna and floras in the town centre design.

" Botany Town Centre has been developed around an authentic town centre concept. We have aimed to integrate a large retail centre with public spaces to encourage community ownership. ‘ says Barber

The physical design of Botany is also organised like a local community with streets and lanes, park areas, plus three stunning centrepieces – The Conservatory, Town Square and Market Square. Pedestrian streets connect smaller squares and courtyards and passages giving people the freedom to experience open air shopping.

Barber says that the entire town centre has been meticulously planned to incorporate native New Zealand flora and fauna, cycle paths, an orchard and even a secret garden.

"Forest Canopy enhances the ambience of the Conservatory and reflects the style and attention to details that can be consistently found throughout Botany Town Centre’ adds Barber.

Botany Town Centre is an AMP Henderson Global Investments development which will comprise 13 large format stores and more than 130 specialty stores, cafes, entertainment facilities and offices when phase two opens later this year.


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