The 2009 Wynyard Quarter Precinct Plan reinforced the 1.6km long Quay St. promenade as the major waterfront axis for Auckland. The 35m high ‘silo’ grouping is an important civic marker at the Western end. The urban masterplan recommends their retention and that the top of this cluster become a public viewing/event platform.
International artist Anthony McCall has presented an innovative concept to use the interior of the Silo 7 as a light receiving chamber and the top of the silo as a light emitting urban marker. He selected Architecture Workshop (AW) to collaborate and review a number of options; an external stair and glazed lift tower and additional upper floor viewing platforms with revenue generating facilities. To meet budget, AW has developed a minimal infrastructure base scheme to deliver Anthony McCall’s vision.
In the words of Anthony McCall:
The basic idea for the cylindrical dark room inside Silo 7 is that it will become a receiving chamber for a single, immense blade of sunlight.
The discussions to date have helped distil the concept to its essential parts. The entry sequence requires increasingly subdued lighting as it can take up to 10 mins for eyes to adjust from the bright New Zealand sky. The interior light levels are to be quite low, similar to ‘the atmosphere of a medieval chapel’. The visitor arrives through the existing openings in the Silo base and enters up a spiral ramp that follows the interior Silo wall up to the 25m high light chamber. Currently the light slot width is shown at 20mm. We are not sure as to how much total light the slots bring into the chamber, yet. Unequal exterior wind pressures and the ‘internal weather’ could affect the movement of the haze that will manifest the blade of light.
A prototype wall section is proposed as the next step in realizing the light receiving chamber. This installation into the existing Silo will give Auckland a unique international artwork, very special to the industrial waterfront and New Zealand’s maritime memory.