Architect Nat Cheshire says regarding The Pavilions: “buildings are just the background. The architecture is everything that happens in between”.
I could not agree more with what Nat said. The Pavilions designed by Cheshire Architects perfectly express these intentions. Eight distinctive, connected and unpretentious buildings disposed at the perimeter of a 16-acre lot create a lively barrier inhabited by different activities. They shape lively edges capable of defining both an internal intimate courtyard and give value to the adjacent streets.
The Pavilions create a village feeling in the middle of downtown Auckland, but a particular village populated by plants and flowers lovers, and chic urbanites. I visited The Pavilions twice: first in April 2013 then in January 2014 and I can see that nature is slowly taking over, conquering gradually the built structures. This dynamic relationship between built and greenery emphasizes the sense of time, the passing of seasons, and is a tribute to the glorious flora of New Zealand.
What I find particularly pleasant about The Pavilions is the beauty and peace of the courtyard especially when you think that this is actually standing above the underground train station. The beauty is in the materials that tell a story: recycled brick veneer, old roof trusses, and Corten steel; beauty is in the huge canopy that floats high above the site, beauty is in the articulation of the narrow alleys that connect the inner courtyard to the outer streets;
beauty is in the green lush plants emerging from the dark wood; beauty is in the variety of plants and flowers that colonize the public space in many different ways, beauty is in the scale of the intervention which is reassuringly comprehensible to humans, and beauty is in the service the good quality of food that is served here at Ortolana restaurant which is at the centre of the composition (www.britonmart/ortolana).
Nat Cheshire states: “For us, the architecture starts with the city block and ends with the teaspoons. Every aspect of this project, from the built forms to the soft Belgian linen on the tables, was designed or selected to evoke a very specific atmosphere, to provide the best experience possible.” http://trendsideas.com/Article17373/NewZealand/CivicDesign
And again I could not agree more (which is usually quite difficult for me). These words make me happy, because I can really see that the designer is taking full responsibility of his actions, the designer becomes the host and a good host takes good care of his visitors.
The Pavilions is not only a place to shop but a place to eat and drink, a place to be idle and to observe life passing by, just like in a good old Italian square. The Pavilions is capable of telling a story and urban tale made of care, details and nature. In a city of large distances and big horizons like Auckland this is a comforting little space.