Text description provided by the architects.
In collaboration with JASMAX, Design Tribe and and Salmond Reed Architects, fjmtstudio has created an experience that promotes a deliberate intention to connect the past, present and future of this much-loved cultural destination. The design seeks to respect the building’s heritage and fulfil its potential by breathing new life into the museum.
A key driver of the works is to improve circulation routes and intuitive wayfinding, and to transform the Southern Atrium into a generously-sized, warm and accessible arrival space where visitors will be welcomed with manaakitanga. Te Ao Mãrama marks a milestone for Auckland Museum in creating a precinct dedicated to cultural welcome, orientation and tikanga.
It delivers a step change for visitors in terms of museum hospitality and retail experiences. Te Ao Mãrama not only reinforces the Museum’s connection with the cultural landscape of Pukekawa – it acknowledges the ancestral and contemporary connections of Tamaki Makaurau to the wider Moana Pacific. The Museum now has two strong and distinctive entry experiences, one marking the Museum’s history and global heritage, and the other celebrating its place in twenty first century Auckland and Aotearoa.
The new western and eastern walkways seamlessly connect the 1929 building to its 21st century evolution. As you enter the Southern entrance, visitors are greeted with two moving ‘fins’ that open and close like a set of doors and feature an artwork by Ngãti Whãtua artist Graham Tipene. The timber artwork is called Te Tatau Kaitaki depicting two female faces to reinforce the fact that you have arrived at a cultural space.
In the main foyer, the Noel Lane-designed Tanoa Bowl is now revealed in all its glory. After being previously cut in half by other exhibition spaces, the fullness of the suspended dome is now seen as you enter the South Atrium. Inside the bowl, the first-floor learning spaces have also been redeveloped.
The transformed museum represents a culmination and celebration of architecture and design from its inception in 1929, to the 2006 Noel Lane and Peddle Thorp additions, to the focus on an improved user experience provided by the latest fjmtstudio design. This is a uniquely Auckland development. It cements the Museum’s civic role as a social and cultural anchorage for the communities it serves.