In this competition-winning design by Studio Pacific the Taylor River has been reimagined as a focal point for the Marlborough region. At the intersection of the river and Town Centre the Quays Riverside Park creates a new heart for Blenheim and a hub for social, economic and community life.
The new park has completely transformed this area of town and created a positive connection to the Taylor River. The park presents a strong and positive image of Blenheim and has become a focal point for the heart of the town, unlocking the potential of the river in forming a strong identity for the region.
Like many towns throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, Blenheim had turned its back to its river. The Quays is an important part of stitching the town and the river back together. The simple gesture is consistent with the urban scale of Blenheim – a place very different to the downtown settings of our major cities. A simple palette of hard and soft materials is used in making the link between the higher land of the urban area, down to the river’s edge and opens up the open space potential at the end of the main street. Difficult levels have been managed, providing north facing grassy slopes and a formed accessible gradient zig-zagging down the slope in a way which is inviting to all users.
The movement down the zig-zag offers a range of views up and down the river, and is well-complemented by plants which reinforce the location in Marlborough, and generally transitions effectively to the existing riverside boardwalk, where raised flood levels can be an issue for materials and plantings. The sculptural aspect of these plants will be enhanced with time, and the design will continue to develop its strength. Gabion baskets filled with local stone also ground the design in place, and give the necessary structural and visual weight while complementing the riverside location.
The most powerful part of the design is the look-out, which takes advantage of the difference in levels to project a jetty-like form out into space. This high-level viewing point adds some drama to the design, and provides vistas to the surrounding landscape, especially to the river environment.
The Award of Excellence recognises a skilful contemporary design carefully inserted into Blenheim’s townscape, and makes a major contribution to the accessibility, celebration and enjoyment of the Taylor River and its significance to the township.
Client: Marlborough District Council
Company: Studio Pacific Architecture
Stuart Dun, Stephen McDougall, James Marsh, Peter Mitchell, Tama Whiting
Marlborough Management Services, Smart Alliances, APL Properties
Main Contractor: Fulton Hogan