Woods Bagot and Peddle Thorp NZ win international competition for Federal Street mixed use in Auckland

The Woods Bagot and Peddle Thorp team have won an international design competition for a new high-rise hotel and apartment tower for New Zealand’s largest city.

With a confident, city-defining tower inspired by Auckland’s natural forms, the successful scheme proposes an exceptional public experience from street level to skyline and connects back to the city from all levels.

The 50-level tower will be built for ICD Property, a Melbourne developer known for its passion for innovative and forward-thinking design, who invited the world’s best architects to participate in the design competition.

Woods Bagot principal and design leader Peter Miglis says the building couldn’t exist anywhere else.

“Inspired by New Zealand’s extraordinary geology and fauna, this will be a simple, elegant silhouette on the skyline that provides a companion to the city’s iconic Sky Tower.”

Sightlines to culturally significant landmarks, the height of the streetscape, pedestrian connectivity to key destinations and Auckland’s weather have all been carefully considered to create a structure that could only sit within this particular location.

While the building will be a defining piece of architecture in Auckland’s cityscape, the architects did feel that “the street needed help” and their consideration of the experience at street level was extensive.

“We asked ourselves the question: can the ground plane of a private development be open, inclusive and generous in spirit? We think it can,” explained Mr. Miglis. “Green laneways to run through the site and which connect to the water are a key idea to encourage movement through and into the site.”

Understanding the future vision for the city was a strong driver when designing the building’s lower level, which Woods Bagot associate principal Andrew Walter says asserts the responsibility of architecture to consider the street it occupies.

“Through its transformation into a pedestrian-focused laneway, Federal Street has the potential to become a public destination akin to a town square or public plaza. We know that the skyline defines a city’s identity, yet it is the streets – where people inhabit the city – that define its character,” said Mr. Walter.

By elevating the hotel lobby to the top of a podium, the lower street levels are freed to be highly public focused. A key feature will be a ground level marketplace offering the finest New Zealand food and beverage. The ‘sky lobby’ also gives the public an opportunity to enjoy the building and city from another aspect.

The 180-metre-tall building will occupy a 1600 square metre site at 65-71 Federal Street, between Victoria and Kingston Streets, just to the north, seaward side of the Sky City complex. It will combine retail space, a hotel with more than 200 rooms, investor apartments and owner occupier penthouse suites.

Peddle Thorp NZ director Richard Goldie explains that the design is a strong expression of place, using timber extensively in its public spaces.

“Our major civic buildings, the Auckland Museum and Auckland Art Gallery both use timber to stunning effect. It’s the material with which we privilege our most significant buildings,” Mr Goldie said.

The design also notably respects the Sky Tower, the primary marker locating the city centre, by protecting views to the horizon from the Sky Tower’s observation deck. Views up through the podium atrium are centred on the Sky Tower.

The brief called for a scheme complying with a floor surface ratio (FSR) of 13:1, and another at 18.5:1. The winning Woods Bagot and Peddle Thorp scheme observes Auckland Council’s vision of design excellence with a solution that delivers exemplary design and public amenity.

The building will be green-rated to the highest possible level with an embedded power network. The tower will be clad in curtain wall glass – a glazing system with aluminium mesh between the panes of double glazing to improve the building’s performance environmentally, acoustically and structurally.

With open balconies not possible at high levels because of the wind strength, internal conservatory winter gardens with angled façade panels will provide the feel of an outdoor environment.

ICD Property’s deputy managing director Matthew Khoo believes the NZ$200 million development will bolster Auckland’s future growth and development.

“The Woods Bagot/Peddle Thorp team had a great approach for considering what was best for Auckland as a whole. Their scheme is an excellent outcome for the site and for the city, and our team is very excited to collaborate with the design partnership to deliver this project,” he said.

The development should be completed by the end of 2022.