Site Visit

Site Visit

Auckland Domain Wintergardens

Around the Site

As we begin on the journey around the Domain Wintergardens I try to take notice on the plants which have been planted there. I noticed many kinds of grass, lily pads and other plants found on the wetlands by the water. To the left of the gardens there is a little pond which I assume is the rockery were we started out journey. I also noticed an abundance of trees and shrubs which look like they would belong in the forest or in front of old English cottages.

We continue around the site, behind the fernery/old quarry and up the hill of the domain where there is an old Remu tree which is a memorial dedicated to Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, a warrior and leader of the local Ngāti Mahuta (Waikato Iwi). When the settlement of Auckland was under threat of attack in 1845, Te Wherowhero vowed to defend it. The government built Te Wherowhero a house in Auckland Domain, and hundreds of Waikato Māori moved to Māngere, where they provided military protection for the settlers and developed a flourishing trade in feeding them as well. This is just one of many landmarks in the Auckland Domain which signify pieces of the past in Tamaki Makaurau.

Memorial for Te Wherowhero

As I stand on the land behind the gardens, up on a hill, I begin to see the vastness of the landscape that is the Auckland Domain. A myriad of trees line this landscape where I stand atop the hill, looking out onto the cricket field and the grand stand. As we walk down the hill towards the gardens I notes more trees tainted in yellow and gold- signaling the change in season from Summer to Autumn. Amongst these trees the bird sounds are very prominent. These songs intermingle with that of the construction workers around the site, disturbing the peacefulness of nature.

Building Structure: ‘Under Glass’

When we arrive at one of the facades of the Wintergardens (Tropical Glasshouse exterior façade) I’m in awe of how beautiful the casting of shadows from the plants look, backlit by the sun with light hazes of their colour. The organisms living within look truly wild and magical. The scale of them, stretching out to the dome shaped ceiling make them look monstrous and powerful. This is an interesting aspect of the glasshouses I would like to consider in my brief and/or research.

Temporal Elements of the Gardens

Aging and changing of the building through time

Its quite fascinating to see how the effect of time can change the appearance of a building. You have to look closely between the cracks to notice new life growing- weeds a sign of wildness and unkemptness. The the concrete walls around the parameter of the winter gardens form a stable rust-like appearance after several years’ exposure to weather creating the look of Corten steel. When we observe the weathering of materials and structures we can start tp notice patterns on the surface which can we beautiful in its unique randomness. Like the way moss grows over the brick wall, or the dots splattered around these concrete walls. What is the story behind this aging?

Site Entrance

The staircase leading to the entrance of the winter gardens give the sense of a secret garden behind there. The wall blocks and view from looking into the site giving a sense of mystery. With a lovely node to history for the public, the sign on the staircase introduces the gardens and a bit of history. Upon arrival at the top of the staircase you are welcomed with hallways of brick, pergolas and exquisite climbing vines, plants and a well kempt lawn to the right with a statue at the end.

Walking In To The Gardens

First Impressions

I noticed the cat statue right away upon entering. In the foyer the atmosphere feels eerie. The climate feels hotter around the pond but it could just be the sun coming out.  The gardens are well kept/manicured so the dirty fountain and weathered structure looks beautiful in contrast. The symmetry and shape of the sunken pond is intricate and interesting. It feels like a different world in here. It also feels like a government or royal garden. The fernery at the back makes it look like this place is surrounded by trees taking you away from reality I can smell roses in the air.

View from Wintergardens entrance past the foyer. Each barrel-vaulted glasshouse is on the left and right of this view: note how you enter the gardens from the side much like the architecture from Beaux-arts classical style.
Observation drawing: colour pencil on paper
Site Sketches

Tropical Glasshouse Foliage

While in the tropical glasshouse I observed the range of different plants living here. I wanted to capture some photographs that demonstrates how lush plants growing here are so diverse in colour, pattern and texture all while thriving under the same climate. The geometry, balance, form, shape, delicacy and conditions of growth such as water can all be observed through this gallery of images. I am very fascinated by this array of organisms. It’s one of the most captivating parts of the gardens.

The Fernery (Old Quarry)

First Impressions

Walking in to the fernery I am welcomed by a few signs disclosing a bit of history. The entrance feels spacious as I walk through the old and weathered archway. The white gravel provides the sense of lightness and space which soon transcends into a narrow pathway surrounded by New Zealand bush, plants and trees. The faint sounds of construction workers is the only thing grounding me to the reality of the site and its position/context. Otherwise I feel like I have escaped the bustling city and people of the park and am exploring New Zealand nature. I notice the grid formed pattern of the pergola above. The tree canopy fits its form within the grid sporadically and randomly, leaving gaps in this system. The fernery seems to be taking me on a journey around, passing sculptures of native New Zealand birds, ferns, benches, grids, shadows, lush green. What peaks my interest though is the way some of these trees manage to wrap and swerve around the pergola structures like a dance of nature and how the netting over the pergolas cushion the fall of tress outside the fernery, blocking out the outside world to leave this one untouched.


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