By Antony Phillips
After a few years of restricted access and being ‘under wraps,’ the historic Wintergardens at Pukekawa Auckland Domain have finally been uncovered and re-opened after a period of conservation and improvement works.
Built in the early 20th century, the Wintergardens combine Aotearoa New Zealand's natural and cultural heritage, featuring a series of structures displaying a variety of native and exotic flora in the Auckland Domain. The structures were designed by William Gummer and Charles Ford who were prominent architects in Aotearoa New Zealand and established a practice in 1923.
Construction originally started during WWI to commemorate the success of the Industrial, Agricultural and Mining Exhibition (1913-1914) held on the same site. Profits from the exhibition were used to create sports fields, and to erect a Temperate - or Cool - House in 1916-1921 for the year-round display of flowering plants.
Other parts of the Wintergardens were planned at the same time, but not carried out until the late 1920s, when a Tropical House, Fernery and connecting courtyard were added.
Made of steel and glass, the barrel-vaulted Victorian glasshouses have now undergone seismic strengthening with additional steel ties and cleats attached to the existing structure, specially designed glazing bars added, and clear glass re-introduced in keeping with the original design intent.
The conservation work and improvements have been carried out sensitively to honour the heritage values of the place whilst enhancing this heritage landmark of Tāmaki Makaurau.
Listed as a Category 1 historic place, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga staff were involved with the project along with representatives from Salmond Reed Architects, including the late Jeremy Salmond, and Auckland Council. From its early function as a place ‘for promenades’ and admiring exotic botanicals, to hosting weddings and APEC leaders, after this sympathetic restoration this civic landmark can be enjoyed by future generations.