Ports of Auckland Future Master Plan

Auckland deserves a welcoming green foreground to the City that speaks not just about the historic pragmatics of maritime commerce, but about aspirational values and our identity in a new age – about our people and their diversity, about our place and the specifics of its location in the south-west Pacific, about future sustainability and our place in the natural world.

Archimedia have prepared this Master Plan study as a result of teaching the AD2 Studio “Deported” with Chris Barton at University of Auckland School of Architecture during 2016; and out of an aspiration to facilitate a public dialogue about the future potential of the site.

As a result of Archimedia’s investigation of this site, the consultation process, and the tremendous support and great ideas we have received as feedback, we propose two simple recommendations:

  1. That the City, through a collaborative public process, creates an aspirational Master Plan for the Ports of Auckland site, and
  2. That nothing that the Port company does in the next thirty years compromises the potential of that Master Plan

Archimedia have run studio workshops, consulted widely and integrated all relevant feedback into this proposal, resulting in around twenty significant urban design principles and responses.

Urban Design Concepts

  1. The Island / Atoll
  2. The Green Park – a new landscaped foreground to the City
  3. New Public Waterfront
  4. The Waterfront Axis – a maritime Quay Street
  5. The Stadium
  6. The Headland Cultural History Centre and Waka Estuary
  7. The Headlands and Bays / Ridges and Gullies topography
  8. Green Valleys – city-to-water green landscape networks
  9. New Water Stadium and Lido
  10. The Channel / Stream
  11. The Memory Bridges
  12. Cruise Ship Terminal
  13. Education Precinct
  14. Axial links into the City

a. Tinley Street Axis
b. Jellicoe Bridge
c. The Mahuhu ki te Rangi Park / Sparc Arena Axis
d. The Stadium axis
e. Gladstone Road axis)

15. Island Precincts and Building Heights
16. Sustainability and Public Transport

1. The Island / Atoll

The Ports of Auckland site is the result of over a century of accumulated reclamation from the Waitemata Harbour.

The original shoreline is shown as a red line on the Site Plan of the existing Port.

The most significant gesture of this proposal is to return this land to the Waitemata – to the water realm, by encircling it with a tidal, sea-water “channel” and creating a new, walkable, urban “island”.

In a cultural context, the island is seen as an “atoll”, which “opens ancient narratives” for tangata whenua.

The island retains the approximate footprint of the reclamation, but changing its status to that of a Gulf Island only metres from the CBD dramatically changes its land value.

The existing port footprint is re-expressed to follow a “headlands and bays” typology / topography.

Public Landscape and open space take precedence over the built environment on the island. The island is approximately 625,000m2. Of this area, 405,000m2 or 65% is dedicated public space.

The island creates a multitude of public, aquatic “edges” for the city, totalling over 8 kilometres of new public waterfront.

The resident population is estimated at 8000 – an occupation density of 125 persons/ha, greater Auckland currently has 45 persons/ha.

An elevated pedestrian walkway and bike path encircles the island. The sea-walk mitigates the northwest fetch and creates a sheltered “lagoon” and “water stadium” within for active recreation.

The new ground plane of the island is adjusted to respond to a 2m sea-level rise over the coming century.

Some facts and figures (areas subject to confirmation):

Existing Ports of Auckland Footprint:
770,000m2; 77.0ha (190 acres)

Proposed Island / Atoll:
625,000m2; 62.5ha

Quay Street:
42,000m2; 4.20ha (approximately)

New Quay Street South Development Sites:
47,000m2; 4.70ha

New Channel, Estuary and Reclamation returned to Waitemata:
56,000m2; 5.60ha

Public Realm:

In Sydney for example, the ratio between public space and private space is approximately 50/50 (Public Sydney, Peter John Cantrill)

Proposed Island Atoll Area:
625,000m2; 62.5ha

Proposed Public Footprint:
405,000m2 ; 65% (rounded)

Proposed Private Commercial Footprint:
220,000m2; 35%

2. The Green Park foreground to the city

We see the City from the water. Historically the isthmus was approached from the ocean. Many visitors first see Auckland as they travel up Rangitoto Channel and turn into the sheltered waters of the Waitemata.

We believe the new island should be predominantly landscape, representative of New Zealand and Auckland’s natural landscapes

We propose a transition from the natural aquatic world to the urban city through a recovered landscape – a headland park of native forest and constructed landscape forms, creating a green foreground to the city.

Within this parkland, an ahi kaa beacon of fire is sited, a symbol of occupation, a navigational and territorial marker.

3. New public waterfront

Public access is proposed to every edge of the island. The island has a variety of edge conditions – sandy beaches, rock walls, elevated sea-walk, bridges, traditional wharves, the canal-like “Channel Stream” edges, public salt-water swimming pools, multiple water steps, active aquatic recreation ramps and pontoons, small craft jetty, paved and treed cycle and walk ways, public plazas, embankments, an amphitheatre for outdoor events, axial pathways, green fields, sports fields and a 10m deep, sheltered, north-facing, outdoor hospitality precinct; all in immediate proximity to the water’s edge.

In total 8.20km of new public waterfront is proposed, excluding the nine new bridges to the island.

4. The Waterfront Axis

The Waterfront Axis continues the Waterfront Spine, established by the Auckland Council Waterfront Plan 2012, including Quay Street within in the CBD; the Viaduct; and Wynyard Quarter beyond.

We propose that Quay Street east of Tinley Street is to be restored to its original axis. Apart from the historic resonance, this re-introduces the long view from Point Campbell to the Ferry Building and Te Wero Bridge urban markers.

In our view, it is essential that Quay Street retains its integrity as Auckland’s “waterfront” street, and is not consigned to an “inland” role by over-development of the Ports of Auckland land.

The re-alignment of Quay Street also creates a larger footprint of land between The Strand and Quay Street, which is now sufficient to accommodate an international best practice rectangular Stadium. This creates a cluster of major entertainment venues within walking distance of the CBD and integrated with the rail network.

To accommodate the flow of crowds accessing the new Stadium, a pedestrian plaza is created to the south of Quay Street. A new rail station is proposed east of the Gladstone Road / The Strand Bridge.

New mixed use buildings open onto this pedestrian boulevard, establishing a constructed urban edge aligned with the Stadium and forming an activated urban edge parallel to Quay Street.

The proposed Stadium is located on existing Ngati Whatua land. New commercial development sites are proposed adjoining the Stadium facing the Channel / Island across Quay Street.

5. The Stadium

There has been much debate over the role, capacity and location of a new National or Local stadium accessible to the CBD. In our opinion, this large and often empty structure should not be located on the seaward side of Quay Street.

Archimedia have not developed the design of the proposed Stadium, other than to research the footprint of international best-practice stadia focussed on a rectangular pitch and excellent spectator experience. The proposed footprint is comparable to that of Allianz Stadium, Turin, accommodating 45,000 spectators.

This option is compared with Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Trust Stadium, Wellington; and Eden Park. The Stadium

6. The Headland Cultural History Centre and Waka Estuary

Proposed as a constructed “natural” landscape roof sitting above the building below, the cultural centre is dedicated to Ngati Whatua and the history of Maori settlement of the isthmus.

The evocative “volcanic motu”, illuminated red within at night, would create a powerful reminder of Auckland’s geology by day and night.

The centre is proposed with its own perimeter walkway recessed under the sculptured, constructed “ green roof” and an open roofed atrium / courtyard – the walkway and “crater” opening are illuminated red at night, recalling the active volcanic field underlying the City.

The circular crater opening above a multi-storey atrium recalls the work of light and space artist James Turrell.

The “motu” would be surrounded by a shallow “estuary” that covers and un-covers with the tides. The cultural centre is accessed by elevated bridges and may include a waka landing and a waka preservation facility.

7. Headlands and Bays Topography

The existing form of the Port reclamation is exploited to create a “headlands and bays / ridges and gullies” typology, as promoted by Professor Richard Toy, as the topographical form characteristic of Tamaki Makaurau.

8. Green Valleys

The Master Plan extends the green landscaped valleys of Judges Bay, the Domain and Grafton Gully to the edge of the Waitemata, planting new lungs and carbon-sinks for the city and extending the existing Ngati Whatua initiative to encourage pathways for native birds through the city.

9. The Water Stadium and Lido

The elevated sea-walk defines the reef of the atoll and creates within a sheltered, “calm-water” lagoon that is available for cultural, recreational and sporting events.

The sea-walk is suspended on piles between which are strung hangers for aquaculture, filtering the water and creating a dynamic partial barrier to wind waves and ferry wakes.

A paired-bascule bridge opens the lagoon to the harbour, allowing higher-vessel entrance and providing a “gateway” finish marks for water events. The perimeter board walk and beaches create a series of natural amphitheatres for spectators, who might attend / observe events hosted on the water.

Sea-water and storm-water remediation initiatives on the sea-walk and in the Channel / Stream improve water quality to permit swimming at new sand beaches within and outside the lagoon.

The proposal includes a public outdoor sea-water Lido and floating salt-water pools.

The lagoon is targeted at active recreation for paddle-boards, kayaks, waka ama and small sailing craft. These are accessed directly from under-croft public car parking via ramps and pontoons to the water’s edge.

10. The Channel Stream

The island is separated from the mainland by a tidal channel, 40m wide and of varying depths, which ebbs and flows with each tide and which contains sea-water filtering and storm-water run-off mitigation gardens in two of its six fairways between seven shared and two pedestrian bridges.

The Channel creates an edge on its southern side which continues the relationship between land and harbour experienced along Tamaki Drive right into the CBD.

Tidal turbines generate energy for the island and mitigate the current within the channel.

The northern edge of the estuary creates a kilometre of new, canal-like, habitable urban waterfront.

11. The Memory Bridges

Two elevated sculptural pedestrian bridges extend over the estuary at the eastern and western margins of the island. These two bridges trace the original outline of Point Britomart (Te Rarenga-ora-iti ) and Campbells Point ( Wai-a-Taikehu), recalling their historic geological footprint.

12. The Point Britomart Cruise Terminal

We understand a new Cruise Terminal is proposed for a re-developed Captain Cook Wharf. This will involve almost double the length of its current extension into the harbour.  In conjunction with Princes or Queens Wharves, this new terminal may  cope with demand over the next twenty five years or so. It may be that by the time the Ports redevelopment is underway, that demand for cruise liner berthing exceeds this capacity.

The existing Bledisloe Wharf significantly exceeds the length of the largest cruise ships currently visiting Auckland – Royal Caribbean Oasis Class Ships 250,000t; 370m long).

Utilising this existing wharf places cruise ships in a fairway on axis with Britomart Place, creating a dramatic urban experience and allowing passengers access to the Queen Street valley via a pedestrian orientated network of lanes and transport hub; as well as along the proposed upgraded Quay Street Boulevard.

We propose a mixed-use multi-storey terminal where the lowest two levels are allocated to Cruise Ship activities when required, which is approximately one-third of the year. Above the terminal entertainment, workplace and residential activities would assist the feasibility of the Cruise Terminal development.

A functional transport and servicing loop accessed from the Tinley Street bridge, which links axially to Beach Road and thence to all transport infrastructure is proposed to ensure smooth operation and servicing.

13. Education Precinct

An education precinct on the eastern end of the island flanks the axial boulevard to the cultural history centre. The open fields allow Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary education to occur for families living on the island. To the west of the boulevard, tertiary and cultural education facilities are proposed.

14. Axial Connections into existing City

  • Britomart Place – visual access to harbour fairway
  • Tangihua / Tingley Street – road and pedestrian access
  • Jellicoe Bridge – recalling the axis of Jellicoe Wharf, pedestrian access
  • Mahuhu ki te Rangi Park – pedestrian bridge connecting the Mahuhu ki te Rangi Park with the headland park
  • Waipapa Green Axis – pedestrian bridge – fingers of green landscape extending down Aucklands historic valleys are reinforced along the Parnell rail-line and into the space between Sparc Arena and the new Stadium – this green “lung” is extended across the island and the water re-mediation gardens to a waterfront plaza and sandy bay
  • Stadium Lane – pedestrian bridge connecting the Stadium and its east-west pedestrian access boulevard with the hospitality precinct and the waterfront point.
  • The Strand Bridge Axis – a road and pedestrian bridge – connecting The Strand directly to the water in the Bay.
  • Gladstone Road – visual connection only to park-side boulevard on island, framed by Memory Bridge
  • Judges Bay Bridge – road, street car, pedestrian and cycleway bridge, accessing skate park and car-parking for the retained Marine Rescue Centre, Heliport and restaurants.

 15. Island Precincts and Building Intensity

  • Cruise Terminal – mixed use development above two-level OPT
  • Tangihua / Tinley Street – entertainment, workplace, residential; public Lido and lagoon access
  • Jellicoe Bridge axis – retail, hospitality, workplace, residential; recreation concessions; market; artists studios
  • Mahuhu ki te Rangi Park – retail, hospitality, workplace, residential
  • Waipapa Green Axis – pedestrian bridge – fingers of green landscape extending down Aucklands historic valleys are reinforced along the Parnell rail-line and into the space between Sparc Arena and the new Stadium – this green “lung” is extended across the island and the water re-mediation gardens to a waterfront plaza and sandy bay – hospitality, entertainment, workplace, residential
  • Stadium Lane – pedestrian bridge connecting the Stadium and its east-west pedestrian access boulevard with the hospitality precinct and the waterfront point – retail, hospitality, workplace, residential
  • The Strand Bridge Axis – a road and pedestrian bridge – connecting The Strand directly to the water in the Bay – retail, hospitality, workplace, residential
  • Gladstone Road – visual connection only to park-side boulevard on island, framed by Memory Bridge, education and cultural precinct; workplace, residential
  • Judges Bay Bridge – roadway, pedestrian and cycleway bridge, accessing waterfront green park and cultural centre; skate park and car-parking for the retained Marine Rescue Centre, Heliport and restaurants – education, workplace, recreation, residential

16. Sustainability and Public Transport

  • A self sufficient energy strategy for the island is being prepared by Ecubed Building Workshop
  • Roof mounted photo-voltaic panels are supplemented by tidal turbines located in the Channel Stream.
  • The walkable island – motor vehicles are restricted to arterial roads only to key facilities – all other surface circulation is by shared spaces and walkways.
  • The island is in easy walking distance of proposed street cars on Quay Street, heavy rail stations at The Strand and Britomart; and ferry terminals on the sea- walk and at Downtown.
  • Basement space in building footprints future-proofing against sea-level rise is flexible and may accommodate cars, storage or other activities depending on the requirements of a post-car society.

Consultation and Collaboration


  • Archimedia – Lindsay Mackie, Sean Park, Mehul Patel, Mick Charoenphan, Kavita Sharma, Angela Holmes, Anna Teo, Helen Gillett, Jenny Chen, John Pollard, Kate Morland, Lei Lee, Liane Owens, Lynda Mackie, Matt Sterne, Reuben O’Halloran, Sue Chung, Tim Graham, Tom Johnson
  • Maori Dimension – Bernard Makoare
  • Sustainability – Ecubed Building Workshop – David Fullbrook
  • Town Planner – Dales Consultancy Services – Brooke Dales
  • Real Estate – Colliers International – Jimmy O’Brien, Alan McMahon
  • Cost Advice – Rider Levett Bucknall – Stephen Gracey


  • Ngati Whatua Orakei – Ngarimu Blair
  • Auckland Council – Chris Darby
  • Auckland Design Office – Ludo Campbell Reid; Tim Fitzgerald; George Weeks
  • Panuku Development Auckland – Roger MacDonald, Rod Marler, Alan Young
  • Landscape Architects – Henry Crothers; Matthew Bradbury
  • Urban Auckland – Julie Stout
  • Stop Stealing our Harbour – Michael Goldwater, David Gibbs
  • University of Auckland School of Architecture – Chris Barton; Andrew Barrie
  • Greater Auckland – Patrick Reynolds
  • Bike Auckland – Bruce Copeland
  • ALT Group – Dean Poole, Ben Corban




Project Team

Lindsay Mackie
Sean Park
Bernard Makoare
Mehul Patel
Kavita Sharma
Mick Charoenphan
Angela Holmes
Anna Teo
Helen Gillett
Jenny Chen
John Pollard
Kate Morland
Lei Lee
Liane Owens
Lynda Mackie
Matt Sterne
Reuben O’Halloran
Sue Chung
Tim Graham
Tom Johnson




Auckland Port debate: Mayor Phil Goff stresses need to examine Manukau Harbour alternative









Reference projects by James Turrell