Vertical village being planned for centre of city

LONDON: A mutligenerational mixed use village is now been contemplated for the centre of the city.

A large Malaysian development firm has upped the stakes in a land deal with the council, signing up to “upcycle” a 1950s office building known for its “brutalist” design elements.

Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) previously negotiated a deal to build a 21-storey building on the corner of Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive in Auckland, dubbed Symphony.

Described as a “vertical village”, the Symphony building will feature retail and commercial space, as well as 79 upmarket apartments, to be completed in 2028.

MRCB purchased a 125-year leasehold interest for the site on the corner of Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive for $40 million from Eke Panuku.

Now the developer will have total creative control of an adjacent laneway, having also taken on the role of restoring the neighbouring 1959 heritage-listed Bledisloe House.

The locally hired development management firm, RCP, told Stuff the addition had brought the cost of the combined project to $600 million.

“We were the obvious party [for Bledisloe], because we have an interest in the laneway’s success, rather than having tensions between two developers,” director Cristean Monreal said.

Entrances to both buildings will face the Te Wai Horotiu station of the City Rail Link which is expected to funnel 54,000 travellers through each day.

Monreal said the Bledisloe ground floor and laneway would have food and beverage tenants, with the intention of having an “Amano-esque offering”.

“It will be coffee to cocktails for the workforce using the train.”

It would cement the area as an arts district, providing transport and food options for people visiting the Civic, Q Theatre, Aota Centre or Town Hall, he said.

The two buildings, while being neighbours, couldn’t be more different in their design, with Symphony’s glass exterior and “sculptural” waves and Bledisloe’s post-war minimalism.

Simon McLean and Dajiang Tai of Cheshire Architects said the project was an opportunity to return Bledisloe to it’s “former glory”.

It’s a typical modernist building with long horizontal lines, a gridded facade and a rooftop balcony, McLean said.

Asked if the building was ugly, cool or both, McLean was quick to defend it as being “definitely just cool”.

However, McLean and Tai agree that the sun shading louvre panels that had been added to the building’s windows later in its history would need to go.

“It will be interesting to see, once we have decluttered the building, and done the ground floor, whether people will see it with a new eye,” Tai said.

RCP has got resource consent for Bledisloe House and is expecting the resource consent for Symphony to be signed off within a fortnight.

The apartments are expected to be released onto the market by the first quarter of next year. There will be a gym, outdoor terrace and a movie theatre as part of the residential component of the building.

“The first floor is the 10th floor, and it goes up 21 floors, so no apartment has a bad view,” Cristean Monreal said.

The development will be underway by early 2025 – before the completion of the Te Wai Horotiu station.

Symphony and the laneway will be completed in 2028, while the ground floor commercial at Bledisloe will be ready by the first half of 2026.