THE bustling city of Auckland will soon welcome its largest conferencing space, in reponse to the increasing demand and continued interest in New Zealand’s largest city.

The New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC), a new 4,000 guest venue due to open in 2020, has commenced the installation of the first set of glass art work covering the exterior top of the building.

Works by two New Zealand artists, Sara Hughes and Peata Larkin will span a total of 5,760m2 once fully installed on the four external walls of the NZICC.

First to be fitted will be 98 glass fins that will adorn the western and eastern exterior, followed by the southern side of the NZICC where another glass artwork feature with over 500 panels of varying size will wrap the top level of the structure.

“The artwork reflects the experience of walking through the New Zealand bush and looking up through a canopy of trees to see the unique light and colour of the forest,” said artist Hughes.

The imagery uses 60 different colour tones and is inspired by Hughes’ upbringing in rural Northland near the Waipoua kauri forest.

Warren and Mahoney, who designed the NZICC together with Moller Architects and Woods Bagot, say the highly collaborative design process has leveraged the NZICC’s original design brief to create a building with “enduring civic presence and identity”.

“In many ways we’ve been speaking ‘on behalf’ of the building over the last few years,” said Richard Archbold, Project Architect. “That’s why it’s so exciting to see the building increasingly start to speak for itself, and the installation of the first of the Sara Hughes-designed fins will see a powerful and distinctive part of the project’s identity assert itself on the skyline.”

Over 500 panels of different sizes, shapes and colours will be installed into the building over the next six months. The panels are lifted in by mini crane or tower crane at an average of six to eight per day.

General Manager NZICC Callum Mallett said the challenge of lifting something so large, heavy and delicate on a busy construction site is significant.

“Some of these glass panels are up to 9m high and weigh as much as 1.3 tonnes, and they have very specific placements, so the team on site have a delicate and challenging job ahead of them,” he said.

Once Hughes’ glass installation is completed, work will begin on the installation of Larkin’s terracotta wall. Around 13,500 terracotta tiles in eight different colours are set to form a “complementary relationship with the glass artwork, softening and adding movement and life to what would have been a straight plain wall”.

The 105m-long tile wall will span from Hobson Street to Nelson Street through the future laneway of the NZICC and will wrap back into the building.

Sitting on a 1.4-hectare CBD site the NZICC, set to be five times larger than the current largest convention facilities in New Zealand, will feature 33 meeting spaces of various sizes including a theatre with capacity to seat 2,850 people, along with lifts that are able to carry up to 11.2 tonnes.


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