From carpark to contextual community hub

A playful building expression that references local ecology and carves out a quiet sanctuary from the elements.

3 Te Kehu Way
3 Te Kehu Way

3 Te Kehu Way (3TKW) is the second commercial project in the wider Sylvia Park precinct: an urban-scale transformation comprising retail, residential, commercial, and community infrastructure.

The client wanted to reimagine Sylvia Park shopping centre as a mixed-use commercial hub, evolving the site from a mall-style retail precinct to a metropolitan centre. “Their mission statement was to change Sylvia Park from a place people visit, to a place people are,” says Woods Bagot project architect Matt Pieterse.  

Designed by Woods Bagot and Peddlethorp with landscape architecture by Boffa Miskell, it marks the next phase in Sylvia Park’s evolution from a retail centre and carparking assets to a true mixed-use satellite neighbourhood.

Project details

The client was open to an alternative architectural form with a playful urban expression that eschews the corporate rigidity of commercial buildings in the CBD.

Comprising the six-storey commercial tower and a low-rise southern pavilion, the building’s L-shaped form is designed to offer shelter from the prevailing winds and protect the public realm from the sound pollution from Mt Wellington Highway. The building mass is also specifically tailored to minimise overshadowing of the public realm along Te Tata Avenue.

The ground plane was designed to reference the ecological history of the site as a former broadleaf forest. The pūriri is a native evergreen with a gnarled trunk and brilliant, waxy leaves, endemic to the northern and coastal parts of the North Island. To mimic its rich subtropical verdancy, the project team used four shades of custom-made glazed green brick, which have been incorporated around the base of the building and in the façade of the southern low-rise pavilion.

Engaging with the lower levels, Boffa Miskell’s landscape architecture sought to reduce the dominance of tarmac on the site, creating a meandering arrival court with improved pedestrian activity and circulation. “Pocket parks” seek to maximise green space and provide places for people to meet and gather, with native vegetation offering biophilic connections.

Perched above the green brick podium, Woods Bagot and Peddlethorp designed an intriguing ‘waffle’ façade from precast concrete, incorporating a pronounced grid geometry made from square and cruciform punched shapes that appears more craft object than pragmatic cladding system.

Resulting from an intensive iteration process, the façade was born out of the quest for a cost-effective but innovative solution to a rational precast façade system. The resulting façade is a varied and textural form, providing an intriguing counterpoint to the uniform glazing that characterises much of the city’s commercial architecture.

In each façade panel, the vision glazing window is supplemented with two smaller ‘false’ or spandrel windows of various sizes. Collectively, the glazing creates irregular stacks of glass in the façade with edges that seldom align. The unexpected result is one of reflective glass rivers running down the façade.  

A proportion of the spandrel windows function as light boxes, containing a colour-change LED lighting, which change colour to mark days of national significance. When combined with the office interior lighting, these light boxes play a subtle game of deliberate scale manipulation against the suburban sky.

Sylvia Park
Auckland, New Zealand
Kiwi Property
5,800sqm (NLA)
March 2023
Architectural design
3 Te Kehu Way, Sylvia Park sketches

“The idea for the ground plane was to capture what the experience of occupying the previous ecosystem may have felt like – a complete immersion in vivid green shades.”

Woods Bagot project architect Matt Pieterse

“The unexpected result is one of reflective glass rivers running down the façade.”

3 Te Kehu Way
3 Te Kehu Way
3 Te Kehu Way
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