Hidden History

Sharon Eccleshall



Phyllis Reserve is part of a network of parks that hinge off Oakley creek. Oakley creek (Te Auaunga) is the longest urban stream in the Auckland and is of significant ecological importance. 

The objective of this project was to improve the site through the addition of new clubrooms, upgraded soccer fields and to provide recreational benefits for the local community, whilst enhancing and protecting the adjacent ecological corridor including Oakley Creek. 

During the initial research and discussions, an understanding of the potential effects of urban development on the waterways and methods of mitigation emerged. Phyllis Reserve has surface potential with its contextual location, regenerating vegetation and adjacent creek. Although the site has some interesting hidden artifacts, with glimpses of the past scattered along the creek banks, my initial thought was to find a simple symbol that could be used in a variety of ways to create a sense of connection, association and continuity. 

The truncated icosahedron shape emerged from its association with the soccer ball; the interlocking pattern provides a structural contrast to the soft forms of the bordering vegetation and meandering creek. Overlaying the hexagonal pattern across the site created areas for catchment and terracing. These shapes provided opportunities for retaining banks, filtrating and mitigating water and a channel for pedestrian circulation. 

The walkways are framed with white blocks, providing seating and a complimentary link in material to the new building. The vibrancy of the white also creates a clear path of connection throughout the site. 

The wetlands created on site are outlined with Corten weathering steel and bent to form seamless shapes. The use of weathered steel creates a contrasting palette to the surrounding greenery. The design of the wetlands and retaining features will reduce the damaging effects of the urban fringe in the ecological area. Structural shapes that emerge from the landscape begin to symbolise the emerging history of the site; a stark reminder of what is hidden and what is permeating from the past.