Embassy Park wins 2017 Waikato/Bay of Plenty Architecture Award

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Tuesday 2 May 2017

Hamilton’s Embassy Park claimed a New Zealand Institute of Architects Local Award for Urban Design at a special function in Tauranga last Friday evening.

The park, on Hamilton’s Victoria Street, has become one of the city’s most colourful and popular public spaces through an ongoing development themed around the Rocky Horror Show.

Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O’Brien formulated ideas for the famous cult classic musical when he was working in the old Embassy Theatre, which once stood on the site. A statue of character Riff Raff is one of the most striking features of the park.

Development of the park has been an ongoing collaboration over the last four years, between Hamilton City Council, Riff Raff Public Arts Trust, the Hamilton Central Business Association and central city retailers.

Local metal sculptor Marti Wong, The Trons robot band creator Greg Locke and ACLX Lighting's Aaron Chesham contributed their skills to the creation of gargoyles, Frank N. Furter's Gadget Box and the chandelier.  A wall painting by local muralist Jeremy Shirley depicts the old Embassy Theatre and the Rocky Horror stage set.  Another, by Paul Bradley, succulently portrays the iconic lips.  The landscaping was a Wintec landscape student design project, implemented in conjunction with the Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Unit 

PAUA Architects – in a pro-bono capacity - took a leading role with design and organisational guidance to the working group, and design work for the site and pavilion.

Cr Angela O’Leary has been an enthusiastic champion of the Embassy Park project from the outset, and says the award reflects the commitment and creativity which has driven the ongoing development.

“Embassy Park is truly unique,” Cr O’Leary says. “The collaboration has been incredibly positive and the park has a range of bespoke items which grab the attention and enhance the Rocky Horror theme. It’s a fantastic colourful and interesting space and we are very proud of what’s been achieved there.”

Vanessa Williams, GM of Hamilton Central Business Association sees the “development of Embassy Park as an excellent example of how external parties can work alongside Council to create a space that contributes to the beautification of the city. The potential to use this collaborative model for projects going forward is really exciting for the city.”

Project Manager Mark Servian said that the Embassy Park project is a model for community driven development of public spaces.

“Embassy Park has worked because the Council, business and a committed group of volunteers have each bought their respective strengths and responsibilities to bear,” Mr Servian says.

“Mutual trust has been critical – the Council has given the Embassy Park Working Group full creative license over a piece of public land, while still facilitating the practical stuff themselves. This in turn has meant the funders, sponsors and contractors have known they are supporting the ‘out there’ artistic vision of a bunch of enthusiastic creatives with the assurance that things will be done properly.”

The Embassy Park team thanks all the sponsors, contractors, artists, students and neighbours who have facilitated the building of the new pavilion, chandelier and landscaping that has made up the project.

More developments are planned for Embassy Park in future.

Page reviewed: 18 Aug 2017 2:13pm