Wynyard Quarter's Innovation Precinct is the built face of an innovative city – a vibrant, accessible place where the public can work, live and be entertained, informed and inspired. It is playing a key role in making Auckland a globally relevant story.Blair Johnston, Principal
The new GridAKL building at 12 Madden Street in the fast-growing Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct takes strong cues from the heritage of its site and from the neighbouring Mason Bros building which houses its designers, Warren and Mahoney Architects.
The six-storeyed glazed building with a black brick base features an industrial material palette that references the origins of this area once used for ship-building and engineering – an intentionally ‘raw’ rather than a ‘refined’ architectural expression. Unlike many modern commercial premises, GridAKL is not a hermetically sealed environment but has operable windows and balconies to ensure the inhabitants of the building are highly connected with the adjacent public lanes, while also acting as a signal of the project’s sustainability credentials.
Designed by Warren and Mahoney for Precinct Properties, GridAKL houses ATEED and Generator as key tenants, and is tangible evidence of the progress of the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct. At 7,500 square metres the project will quadruple the current level of innovation tenants in the precinct when fully occupied.
Blair Johnston was design architect for the project and also worked on the masterplan for the commercial buildings in the Wynyard Quarter, alongside Waterfront Auckland (now Panuku Development), Precinct Properties and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).
The design-led masterplan included the development of high-quality, sustainable office space within the Wynyard Quarter block bounded by Halsey, Pakenham, Madden and Daldy Streets.
Johnston says that the existing character fabric, such as the Lysaght Building and Mason Brothers Building, is a powerful asset for the development. “This rare collection of functional heritage buildings along Auckland’s waterfront provides an authentic counterpart to the contemporary architecture which will form the majority of the buildings in this area,” he says.
The masterplan allows for a coherency of approach not always seen in other areas of Auckland; as well as GridAKL, there are three more commercial buildings to be developed in the precinct and further residential and retail environments.
“Innovation Precincts are organic, living environments. The Precinct provides a wide range of spaces to support businesses at different stages of their evolutionary cycle, actively ‘curating’ a range of users to encourage new ideas and new thinking,” explains Johnston.
“The design of the Precinct breaks down the conventional boundaries between businesses. Co-working spaces that allow businesses to come together in neutral, flexible and technology-rich environments provide a completely new kind of space in the city.”
The next phase of development in the Innovation Precinct will focus on the construction of public lanes. This network of landscaped laneways with integrated artwork and catenary lighting will accommodate spaces for children to play and become an everyday destination for all Aucklanders. These lanes will link the commercial, residential and hospitality uses of Wynyard Quarter.
Johnston says there will soon be a concentration of activity in the Wynyard Quarter with the influx of workers, such as software developers, moving into GridAKL alongside residential occupants. The combination of residential, innovation and commercial use will bring diversity and interest throughout the week, a mix that helps to builds a sense of community. “Aucklanders will realise that this is not a soulless commercial office park, but a real 24/7 mixed-use destination that appeals to all sorts of people,” says Johnston. It’s the built face of an innovative city – a vibrant, accessible place where the public can work, live and be entertained, informed and inspired. “The Innovation Precinct is playing a key role in making Auckland a globally relevant story.”Close