Te Kopahou entranceway on south coast wins NZILA Supreme Award

23 March 2015

The entranceway and visitor centre at the Te Kopahou Reserve on Wellington’s south coast has won the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects’ George Malcolm Supreme Award for its outstanding design and execution.

Te Kopahou entrance.

Te Kopahou entranceway

The award was presented at the NZILA annual conference in Rotorua on Friday evening.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the award is a fine tribute to the huge amount of painstaking work over the past few years to transform the entrance of the former Owhiro quarry into a beautiful and popular gateway to Te Kopahou Reserve.

The overall project was led by Wellington City Council’s senior landscape architect, Charles Gordon. Council architect Carlos Gonzales was instrumental in creating the visitor centre building.

Mayor Wade-Brown says anyone who remembers the “very unpleasant industrial landscape” at the western end of Owhiro Bay Parade after the closure of the quarry and its takeover by the City Council in the late 1990s will celebrate the transformation.

“It was a blasted, potholed area, pretty much devoid of any vegetation, and it was dominated by a very large and ugly workshop building.

“Now the area is truly attractive. The landscaping and planting has had time to become established and the quarry building has been ‘repurposed’ in a highly creative way to become a busy and popular visitor and interpretive centre.

“The entranceway is a great introduction to anyone who wants to walk to Pari-whero - Red Rocks – and it complements all the work being done to replant and landscape the former quarry itself.”

George Malcolm Supreme Award - citation:

The Te Kopahou Reserve project undertaken by the Wellington City Council successfully demonstrates a sensitive and balanced response to an old resource site (quarry) that is now highly valued for its natural setting.

This landscape value was undeniably recognised and reflected through the many submissions received by the public and associated stakeholders. The project succeeds by paying heed to its new purpose, a gateway to Wellington’s picturesque south coast, more so by subtly embracing the memory of an old quarry site.

The complexity of the post-industrial site, the tough coastland environment and the requirement to provide adequate car parking and pedestrian amenity offered numerous opportunities to demonstrate various landscape rehabilitation methods. Simple, environmentally-sensitive techniques were used throughout the project including water-sensitive design, re-use of quarry building materials, eco-sourced endemic planting and re-establishment of local shell-rich rock mulch. The use of an endemic material palette afforded much of the project’s unique environmental and aesthetic response, making it suitable to its contemporary Wellington south coast ‘gateway’ identity.

Landscape memory is most evident through the sensitive regeneration of the natural condition subtly contrasted with an assortment of quarry materials, including the restrained outline of the old quarry building footprint.

In conclusion, the Te Kopahou Reserve project has clarity of purpose. It does not shy away from clearly representing a history of conflicting use. The project cleverly edits and weaves the fabric of a past landscape to reveal the site’s underlying ecology; the old quarry and present-day purpose. Past quarry relics are heightened as they selectively appear through the rehabilitated endemic landscape, an approach that has appeased stakeholder and community expectations. The Te Kopahou Reserve is a truthful representation of a modified landscape, a duality of past and present landscape values, now a landscape memory that informs and enriches the experience of users who visit Wellington’s ‘wild’ and often harsh south coast