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Auckland's new convention centre to be wrapped in art

Large-scale artworks by Sara Hughes and Peata Larkin to feature on the new International Convention Centre in Auckland.

Two of the largest pieces of public art ever created in New Zealand will soon adorn the exterior of the New Zealand International Convention Centre currently being built in central Auckland.

Acclaimed New Zealand artists Sara Hughes and Peata Larkin are each creating artworks made up of thousands of terracotta tiles and more than 550 glass panels, which will start being installed later this year.

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Hughes' artwork features glass panels wrapping around the top level of the convention centre in various colour tones, inspired by her upbringing in rural Northland near the Waipoua forest, New Zealand’s largest kauri forest.

“The artwork reflects the experience of walking through the New Zealand bush and looking up through a canopy of trees to see the unique light and colour of the forest,’’ says Hughes. “To me, it reflects our unique ecosystem and brings the experience of our natural environment to the central city.”

Larkin’s 105m-long terracotta tile wall will span from Hobson Street to Nelson Street through the future laneway of the centre, and wraps back into the building. She says the work describes "the multiple waterways and fertile soil Tamaki Makarau and Aotearoa possesses".

"I wanted to soften the long wall and achieved this by creating an undulated geometric pattern inspired by traditional Maori weaving; a subtle three-dimensional presence that would visually change dependant on the angle it was viewed from."

A view from Nelson St, looking through the laneway (left) that will connect to Hobson St.


A view from the corner of Wellesley St and Nelson St.


A view from Hobson St.


A view from the future airbridge, which will go over Hobson St, connecting people from the convention centre to SkyCity.


The artworks, totalling almost 6000sqm, will integrate into the fabric of the building, which was designed by architecture firm Warren and Mahoney, Moller Architects and Woods Bagot.

Warren and Mahoney project architect Richard Archbold says they worked closely with the two artists to achieve this. "Their works complement and amplify not only the juxtaposed qualities of the building - being weight and substance and lightness and transparency - but also each other."

LED RGB lighting installed within the works will also enable the building to come to life at night with a choreography of changing colour in concert with the nearby Sky Tower.

SkyCity's $703 million convention centre project, which also includes a hotel, will create New Zealand's largest convention centre and is expected to be completed by December 2019. 

An artist's rendering of the future convention centre, with artwork wrapping around the top level, viewed from the corner of Wellesley St and Nelson St. Images/Supplied.