Firth Designer Series Paving used to complement historic features of Catalina Bay precinct  
 
Catalina Bay, previously called The Landing, is an exciting new mixed-use, seaside development at the northern-most tip of Hobsonville Point, Auckland. Formerly Air Force land, this historic precinct takes its name from the Catalina seaplanes that were once housed in its hangars. 
 
Willis Bond, the developers of the 1.8 hectares of north facing waterfront land, successfully acquired the rights to develop it in August 2016 and engaged Cheshire Architects to create a master plan for the development. The brief for the first stage of this required the refurbishment of seven existing air force buildings into a mixture of hospitality, commercial, office and retail offerings and a new home for the popular Farmers Market – all while retaining the location’s unique and rich heritage.  

Originally owned by the Royal New Zealand Air Force it was the home and launching site for the impressive Catalina flying boats.

Simon Mclean, Project Lead from Cheshire Architects talks about their involvement and the vision of the developer for this historic and unique part of Auckland. “Cheshire Architects have been involved in envisioning a future for the land here since it was passed from the Defence Force to Hobsonville Land Company, then with Willis Bond as developer and long term owner,”   says Simon. “From the outset the plan was to create a vibrant, mixed use heart for the Hobsonville Point community, drawing on our learnings from the refurbishment and development of existing buildings at Britomart and City Works Depot, while adapting this to the more suburban locale of Catalina Bay.”  
 
“This is a particular challenge and not something that can be created overnight,” says Simon. “It requires the combined efforts of developer, designers and tenants to realise and grow a brand new seaside village precinct, in a way that sees the local community embrace it as their own.”  
 
“Of course it helps that Catalina Bay is a spectacular site…it faces north, it’s on the harbours edge looking over water to the bush clad hills of Greenhithe, there is a ferry connection to Auckland CBD and it has fantastic existing character buildings with their own stories. It’s absolutely unique in Auckland and is now beginning to live up to its potential.”  

“The project started with the existing buildings by keeping the character of the hangers while adding floor area to create work spaces, food and beverage outlets and housing the farmers market. The large building with the iconic hangar form, at the heart of the precinct, is known as the Sunderland Hangar, after the flying boats that were serviced here for Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL - the forerunner of Air New Zealand).  A co-working office space was added on a mezzanine in the upper level of the hangar while Little Creatures operate their New Zealand brewery along with other food and beverage outlets on the ground floor.”   

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“The large concrete forecourt of the Sunderland Hangar is also historically important within the development as this is the apron on which the sea planes rested after being hauled out of the water,” adds Simon. “This reclaimed waterside land will be subtlety remodelled as a pedestrian prioritised streetscape, removing cars and providing an upgraded waterfront esplanade, but will still retain the integrity of the aviation hardstand.” 

This large expanse of concrete led Simon to look to Firth for concrete paving for the various entrances and walkways. “It was important for us to keep it simple,” he says. “Concrete pavers were a natural choice to provide highlights at entries, crossings and laneways rather than for example the stone language of more urban areas. Firth’s range offers different finishes and colours which we were able to use to create patterns and highlights while ensuring the material finish was in keeping with the underlying theme and character of this place. Firth paving used in this way is also planned for the wider hardscaping upgrade to come.”   
 
A three-stage development, what has been completed so far is classed as stage one, the streetscapes upgrade of the ‘apron’ along with a boutique residential apartment development, will be stage two and then stage three will include further mixed use buildings, completing a new seaside village for Auckland.   
 
Principal: Willis Bond 
Architect: Cheshire Architects 
Contractor: LT McGuiness and Knaggs Construction  
Location: Hobsonville Point  
Product: Firth Designer Series Paving 
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