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Creating connections Working with John Coop

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Posted on 2/06/2016
Architect John Coop imagines entering the NZICC.

You’ll come in off the street and experience the scale of the public gallery and exhibition spaces. You’ll be drawn up by lifts and escalators into the elevated spaces, where you’ll be able to explore the spines and the meeting rooms within the spine walls.

They’ll be very beautiful rooms with views towards the harbour and the bridge. You’ll move through the internal bridges, across the gallery and around the plenary theatre. And look through the fully transparent facades towards the city in one direction and out towards the Waitemata Harbour in the other.

John Coop is the architect leading the NZICC project, working with his Warren and Mahoney colleagues and architects from Woods Bagot and Moller Architects. He’s been living and breathing this building for nearly three years. He praises the “detailed and aspirational” brief to build a convention centre that will be highly innovative, very flexible and adaptable, and would integrate successfully with the street around it.

John describes the plenary theatre as the “engine room of the project”.

That’s where the most famous protagonists of whatever show that’s on that week will be sharing their ideas and speaking about their findings and presenting to their conferences. It’s an exciting concept that the NZICC will be full of people from around the world coming to Auckland to share their ideas. Other times you might be going to much smaller meetings – more intimate. So it will change. But at other times it will have that grandeur that I think the building needs to possess.

But unlike other convention centres, the NZICC will have a positive relationship with the city around it in an open and accessible way. When open in 2019, the NZICC will be very large, welcoming hundreds, sometimes thousands of people there. “It’ll be really dramatic, it’ll feel ceremonial and it’ll feel civic. And it will feel like a dignified public building.”

We wanted to ensure the building had no nasty back door, no black or impenetrable or impermeable space. We wanted the project to be very open and highly transparent.

And they’ve achieved that by providing an inviting face as frequently as possible around the edges of  the NZICC.

There are a lot of front doors in this building. Also important was good shelter. There will be a huge canopy all the way along Hobson Street, canopies along Wellesley Street and the laneway too. There are a lot of ways the building gestures towards the city and I think it has a really important role to play in creating connections.


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