Design Approach: To strengthen the identity of the town
Martinborough is a small town with resident population of 1600 (June 2016), laid out radially around a central town square. Therefore, it is markedly different from the typical small town ‘ribbon’ settlement strung out along NZ main roads. Architecture Workshop (AW) proposed that the central town square and the street layout loosely based on the Union Jack, should be recognised and strengthened as the prime driver of the town’s identity. The colourful and feisty history of Johnny Martin, the founder of Martinborough, provides a unique narrative for the place – the invention of ourselves from what was at hand – recognising the underlying richness of these origins and more importantly, the uniqueness of the local.
Design Approach: To optimize amenity for expenditure
AW formulated two strategies that test the expenditure on refurbishment (strengthening the old town hall) versus expenditure on a new build (library/information centre) in order to find out the best way to spend the budget.
Our position was that the community will get more amenity from a well-designed new building than doing up an old building in the wrong place. AW’s preferred proposal was to keep only the essential heritage – the foyer and front facade of the poorly positioned town hall – and build a new 200 seat community hall and a library aligned with the ‘Union Jack’ diagonal of Texas Street. The new civic scale structure opens each end to address the town square to the West and provide a new sunny entrance courtyard between the old town hall and the new library to the East end. The new Community Building placement significantly improves the ‘containment’ of the Memorial square by reinforcing its built edge.
The long side of the building orientates users to the significant hill country silhouette of 'Ngā Waka o Kupe' and connects to a new raised landscape playground inspired by ‘Kupe’s sail’. The exotic planting of Oaks and Elms found within the existing Memorial Square will be contrasted with plants endemic to the Wairarapa in the new ‘Kupe sail’ park, reinforcing Ngāti Kahungunu history.
I have seen enough now to be in no doubt that Pākehā New Zealanders peering into the 21century have a history that requires them to re-imagine their community. For each to re-think their responsibility to the other. The key to re-imagining will be the landscape. The landscape is the lens we have in common. How can we learn to see? You see a landscape/townscape differently when you have an insight into its history, it’s layers of history.
Park, G. (2006). Theatre country: essays on landscape & whenua. Wellington, N.Z.: Victoria University Press.