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Drop-in drops solution to Old Masonic derriere dilemma

by 19 Dec 2018Warkworth0 comments

Natural and historic heritage portals concept visualisation

Best Current Thinking 2015: Billed as the ‘best current thinking’ of a succession of brainstorming breakfasts at the time, this visualisation was the result of a steer by Kim Morresey, Mahurangi Action Plan project leader during its second phase, which produced the 2010–2030 catchment strategy, that Auckland Council, then, was receptive to initiatives to create environmental centres. The environmental-centre best-current-thinking-concept envisaged here was of a progression of portals that, in the fulness of time, would lead even the mildly adventurous, in gentle stages, all the way to the Wilson Cement Works. visualisation Jefferson Chapple | Mahurangi Action

Its arse-end is one of Warkworth’s worst features, despite robust heritage architecture being about striving to keep public buildings relevant to their communities.

Nothing about the blank back wall of the Old Masonic Hall commends it to be considered sacrosanct. In contrast to the building’s richly detailed façade, its windowless back wall is an architectural abomination, standing between a handsome community space and the community’s greatest asset, not to mention its raison d’être, the Mahurangi River.

In 2015, in a bid to begin an exploration of how a tidehead town’s town basin could be made more appealing, a reading room café was visualised, adhered to the back wall of the hall. It was envisaged that the café would open to the hall, but exactly where the café kitchen might be sandwiched in had not been resolved.

The objective of Saturday morning’s drop-in was to seek feedback and further ideas on options for better use of the space between the Old Masonic Hall and the Warkworth Library, and the between it and the Mahurangi River. But without resolving the back-of-the-Old Masonic Hall dilemma, any attempt to optimise the space could prove to be less-thanoptimal. During the drop-in, when exploring how the hall might be used in the daytime in conjunction with al fresco events, and how those al fresco events might be marquee-based events such as weddings, it became inescapable that this is the Old Masonic Hall’s unrealised destiny; and that a tailored marquee, that fitted snugly to rear of the building, would allow an event to turn the sort of downpour that can turn a balmy summer soiree into a disaster, into the highpoint of a triumph.

Resilio Studio rendering of space between Old Masonic Hall and Warkworth Library, and Mahurangi River

Gulls-Eye View: Aside from the unexplained relegation of public transport, and other extraneous parking on the bus stop, the first glimpse of Resilio Studio’s suggested first stage of a better-connected main street and Mahurangi River is entirely encouraging. But rather than the immovable monolithic seating shown between the Old Masonic Hall and the Warkworth Library, which would be a less-than-welcome intrusion on the free flow of milling guests of an al fresco event, the broad steps that would need run the full width of the back of the hall, and return to marry into the accessibility ramp, when the blank, river-facing, wall is finally filled with the handsome, wooden, glass panelled folding doors that the location always demanded, would provide a relaxed, unforced alternative. rendering Resilio Studio

While it would also be entirely legitimate to attach a permanent extension to the riverfront of Old Masonic Hall, the modern obsession of heritage architects charged with such projects with sharply differentiating the old and the new would, for many, blight the appeal of the 1883 structure, with its gorgeously pretentious façade. A tailored marquee, falling away from her haughtily tall walls, and free of the aluminium frames that rob much of grace from the marquee’s pre time-is-money form, would provide an ambiance unobtainable without the ephemerality of woven fabric.

And lest the odd misanthropically inclined local react indignantly to prospect of the Old Masonic Hall becoming monopolised by an endless procession of weddings of Aucklanders, consent for this new use of the hall would be subject to a limited marquee season. This is the case at Mahurangi West, where the lovingly community-restored ex-single-classroom-school community hall, pays for itself thanks to there being no shortage of couples keen to be married under a marquee, with the hall providing its cute-as-a-button ambience, and the harbourscape doing the rest. This means that the Mahurangi West Hall, and its council-funded marquee site, is available for community events free of charge, whereas, without the marquee-wedding component, the building had languished, deteriorating, for half a century, as a millstone around the necks of locals desperate to see it saved.

The drop-in inspired Old Masonic Hall marquee concept, provided Mahurangi Magazine readers respond with gusto, could provide the gentle kick-in-the-derriere the community space project needs:


  • Super Masonic solution to blank riverbank wall

    This form can be used as-is to support opening up the Old Masonic to the Mahurangi River, or can be edited:
  • If you have already provided feedback to the community-space project, you may ask that this be considered as supplementary or overriding.

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