Client: Willis Bond And Co
Project Type: Commercial Office And Retail
Project Timeframe: 2017-2019
Architects: Cheshire Architects and Ignite Architects
From the late 1920s, the Hobsonville Point area was the site of a Royal New Zealand Air Force base with its flying boats and Catalina seaplanes. This history underpinned a proposal by Willis Bond to develop 1.8 hectares on the point’s eastern tip at Catalina Bay.
Over several stages, the rundown airforce buildings and under-utilised waterfront land are being transformed into a thriving seaside village. The first part of Stage 1 saw a row of seven old airforce workshops converted into office and commercial spaces. The second part saw new hospitality, retail and office spaces.
In the huge Sunderland Hangar, a basebuild that included 48 new piles created a 1000sqm mezzanine floor for offices. The 1500sqm ground floor now has a micro-brewery, bar and food area for Australian brewer and Lion subsidiary, Little Creatures. They had spent eight years searching for the right waterfront venue for their first New Zealand location.
Preserving the site’s heritage character with its 90-year-old steel and concrete structures was important. Strengthwise, the original steel was far short of today’s standards but was in surprisingly good condition and still very true. The Sunderland Hangar steel was kept and exposed as a feature, with new steel installed to strengthen it and to take the additional mezzanine floor.
The hangar’s unique 12m wide x 9m high bi-fold glass door opens to a public plaza and allows superb views. On the day it was installed, a button was pressed and the huge glazed door folded and lifted without a hitch.
When Little Creatures opened on Waitangi Day 2019, 3000 punters poured through the doors. Stage 2, the residential development, has yet to get underway. But Catalina Bay promises to be not just the social and commercial hub of the Hobsonville development but also a popular Auckland destination in its own right.