Rachel Murray, finalist
Photo by Simon Wilson
Rachel Murray, from Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Architecture and Design, was a finalist for her project ‘Market Square/Wetland Pier’.
The imminent construction of a new expressway north of Wellington is the prompt for this concept to salvage a wetland site in the coastal settlement of Waikanae. The design proposes a new town centre for the site in the form of mixed-use, three-four storey buildings overlooking the wetland lagoon. The composition would be a watery ‘market square’ in the town’s centre. A wetland pier accommodating a farmers’ market, boat ramp and other recreation amenities encourages community use of and engagement with the wetland, and recalls the days when waka navigated the local waterways.
A lagoon becomes a new town centre in a project that brings to attention the fragile state, and potential uses, of the country’s low-lying wetlands. The proposal both urbanises and restores a neglected and threatened wetland on the Kapiti Coast. It establishes a connection between the site and the coast and adjacent Kapiti Island, and reconciles the natural environment with the grid imposed in European settlement.