Auckland venue to mirror Sydney Opera House



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New stadium in Aukland revealed Image: HKS

The global design team behind the proposed new downtown stadium at Quay Park (New Zealand) believe that the arena could one day become Auckland’s version of the Sydney Opera House.

‘nzherald.co.nz’ stated that the detailed plans were revealed recently for the 15-hectare precinct, also known as Te Tōangaroa, at the Eastern end of Auckland’s (City in New Zealand) central business district (CBD), which includes four hotels (among them an All Blacks [New Zealand national rugby union team] branded hotel), bars, restaurants, retail, commercial office space, residential apartments, public plazas, and green spaces.

The Quay Park is a junction on the Auckland railway network in New Zealand. It normally links Britomart with the Newmarket station for Western Line, Southern Line and Onehunga Line services, which use a common set of tracks between Britomart and the Newmarket.

The proposed downtown stadium at Quay Park in Auckland, New Zealand is called Te Tōangaroa. The central focus of the development is a 55,000-seat stadium that will provide a home for the All Blacks, the New Zealand Warriors, Auckland Blues, and the new Auckland FC franchise.

The New Zealand national rugby union team, commonly known as the All Blacks, represents New Zealand in men’s international rugby union, which is considered the country’s national sport. Famed for their international success, the All Blacks have often been regarded as one of the most successful sports teams in history. The 50,000-capacity Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, regularly hosts the All Blacks rugby union test matches.

New stadium in Aukland revealed
Image: HKS

The New Zealand Warriors are a professional rugby league football club based in Auckland, New Zealand that competes in the National Rugby League (NRL) premiership and is the league’s only team from outside Australia. They were formed in 1995 as the Auckland Warriors, and are affectionately known as the ‘Wahs’. The 25,000-capacity Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland serves as their residence.

The Blues (known as the Auckland Blues from 1996 to 1999) are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Auckland, who plays in the Super Rugby competition. The Eden Park serves as their home venue.

The Auckland FC is a provisional name for a professional football club in Auckland, New Zealand. The club will compete in the Australian A-League Men competition (the highest-level professional men’s soccer league in Australia and New Zealand), under license from the Australian Professional Leagues, starting in the 2024-2025 seasons. The team will likely play at the Mount Smart Stadium for their first couple of seasons, before moving into the above proposed venue.

The 5,738-capacity Sydney Opera House is a multivenue performing arts center in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Located on the foreshore of the Sydney Harbour, it is widely regarded as one of the world’s most famous and distinctive buildings and a masterpiece of 20th century architecture.

Sydney (Australia)-based the National Rugby League (NRL) is a professional rugby league competition in Australasia which contains clubs from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and New Zealand.

The Super Rugby is a men’s professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It has previously included teams from Argentina, Japan and South Africa.

Broadway (Australia)-based the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) is a sports and media entertainment business that operates, markets and commercializes Australia and New Zealand’s professional domestic men’s and women’s football competitions.

‘nzherald.co.nz’ further stated that but the standout of the pitch is the 55,000-capacity stadium – a radical and innovative design inspired by traditional Māori (indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand) culture and historic features of the Auckland isthmus (a narrow stretch of land on the North Island of New Zealand in the Auckland Region). The U-shaped arena also opens out at one end, allowing views of the Waitematā Harbour and the Rangitoto Island.

It’s a concept that hasn’t been seen in New Zealand – or Australasia before – and could be polarizing but the design team wanted to push the boundaries.

Maintained Andrew Colling, HKS Australasia Director, “We view every stadium as a unique opportunity. Every City deserves a unique response and especially New Zealand. The last thing Auckland needs is another cookie cutter, cake tin solution that is imported from Australia or imported from Europe. We felt very strongly that this was an opportunity to take a fresh start. It reflects the unique context and backdrop and hopefully when people see the images they feel a strong sense of connection that yes, this is New Zealand, this is Auckland. That was the key driver, when you are in the stadium you can’t be anywhere else in the world.”

Dallas (US)-based HKS is a global firm of architects, designers, planners, and advisors who create places noted for their beauty and performance. Its 1,500 people in 27 offices are united by the belief that an environmental, social and governance approach to design achieves design excellence. In 2023, it became a carbon neutral firm.

Mark A. Williams, Global Director of Venues, HKS, US, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The design is distinctive, from whichever angle, in a massive departure from the standard coliseum bowl. The roof takes inspiration from the traditional Māori culture – with its pattern and linework – while the overall structure almost defies description.

Added Colling, “It’s a significant piece of urban sculpture, a big piece of artwork. We hope it could one day be Auckland’s version of the Sydney Opera House, but in a sports stadium. It has been sculpted to fit a particular part of the City and tie together the various links that used to exist on that site, trying to embrace two different cultural heritages. Hopefully, it becomes an anchor on the Eastern side of the City and plays a role in identifying the City as a whole.”

HKS wanted to promote a visual connection to the surroundings for the stadium spectators, rather than an enclosed arena, with views of the harbor and the Auckland Cityscape.

Commented Colling, “Putting an inward-looking stadium there isn’t going to do the City justice.”

Backers of the proposal, led by the former New Zealand Warriors Chief Executive Jim Doyle, believe the precinct will drive a regeneration of the Quay Park area, the last in a chain along the waterfront, after the Wynyard Point, the Viaduct, Britomart, and Commercial Bay.

Stated Colling, “Hopefully, it becomes a catalyst. A lot of it is about activating the Eastern side of the City to catch up with the West. We wanted something that even when there is no game, no event, people want to go there because it is an activated part of the City and there is bars and restaurants. You can climb up the stadium roof and have a look out or go up the top of the All Blacks hotel and get a panoramic view.”

The HKS was founded in Dallas in 1939 and has 27 offices around the world. Some of its signature projects include the National Football League (NFL) team Dallas Cowboys 80,000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the 73,000-capacity U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, part of a precinct that has revitalized the surrounding neighborhood. Its resume also includes the 70,000-capacity SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and Perth’s (Australia) 61,266-capacity Optus Stadium.

The Quay Park proposal is one of four bids under consideration from an Auckland Council working group, which will make a non-binding recommendation. The full Council is then expected to confirm its preference for Auckland’s future main stadium later this year.

The other options are the waterfront precincts at Bledisloe Wharf (port in Auckland) and Wynyard Point (a reclaimed area on the Waitematā Harbour in Auckland) and a redeveloped Eden Park.

Concluded Colling, “We hope that our design excites the community, shows what is possible and hopefully the momentum keeps going. It’s a catalyst to look at the East side of the City a bit differently. We are conscious that we are pushing the limits of the design but we just felt it was such a unique opportunity. The City maybe missed an opportunity with the 2011 Rugby World Cup and we were trying to get the City excited, to not miss the opportunity again.”

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