The process of conceiving a civic project of importance can span not just months, but years and even decades.
I’ve been lucky in my career to be involved in several pieces of public architecture, but none more interesting than the recently opened Heritage Centre on Rakiura Stewart Island.
Born out of necessity to provide a new purpose-built facility to re-house the island’s museum exhibition, the project began almost 10 years ago.
As the first piece of civic infrastructure constructed on the island in over 25 years, the project developed a rich narrative supported by its strong connection with the ocean, maritime history, local iwi, community and environment.
Te Puka O Te Waka speaks of the anchor of the waka, the vessel that holds the taonga of Rakiura.
The striking form of the building represents the prow of the vessel which floats above the ground paying homage to the maritime reference.
Two physical anchors representing the Maōri and European history of Rakiura Stewart Island proudly anchor the building to the site.
The preservation and conservation of a history as rich as Rakiura, Aotearoa’s Anchor, is a testament to the tireless efforts of the volunteers of the Rakiura Heritage Trust.
As a designer for WSP Architecture I am proud to have been involved as it reflects our kaupapa of, “creating what matters for future generations”.
This socially conscious piece of civic architecture continues our legacy to create spaces and places for all to enjoy.
There has never been a better time for New Zealanders to reconnect with their heritage and I recommend a visit to not only the museum but to experience the hospitality of the local community – you won’t be disappointed!