Walls That Tell a Story

Can you guess where this wall might be?

How about this one?

Even in close-up, these walls are starting to tell stories.

Stories about their location, about their history and about the conditions they experience every day.

It’s a bit of a no-brainer really, once you start looking properly, to tell that these walls are near the waterfront. Both can be found in the ever-increasing necklace of public places fronting Auckland’s famous harbour.

Let’s start with those oyster walls. They’re part of a massive temporary, playspace in Wynyard Quarter. The whole design by Isthmus imagines a waterfront that might lie beneath the existing ground, and the walls help tell that story.

On fine sunny days big kids and small were all over it like you wouldn’t believe. From a distance the shells in the walls can’t be seen, but then the scale, mass and colour of the concrete takes over the job of telling the story.

The other wall is part of a revetment wall near the end of Silo Park that tumbles down to the water. It’s the daily tides that have painted it in such beautiful graduating hues.

The wall acts as a mini amphitheatre, with everyone walking past able to look down and see you. Despite this the change of level creates a surprisingly private and secluded nook (a nookie nook for this pair...) away from the main promenade and activities.

These blocks that make up this wall have been recycled by Taylor Cullity Leathlean | Wraight + Associates from old precast concrete units that were once used for storage.

I love the stories embedded in landscapes, and the connection they create between the past, present and future.

We are working on a project at the moment that will make walls using existing paving that we're removing to create better level transitions. Doing this creates a win-win: we solve the challenging Once built, these walls will then become another chapter in the story of this landscape.

Examples like this are everywhere if we take the time to look. Where have you encountered walls that tell a story? How could you adopt this approach to tell a story in your landscape? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you enjoyed this taste of Auckland’s waterfront landscape then stay tuned, as I’ll be sharing more in the next few weeks.