A city’s skyline is its signature. High rise buildings not only change the skyline today, but also form part of the legacy that we leave to future generations.

Auckland’s skyline is currently undergoing a transformational change, with a number of high rise projects underway that will reshape and redefine Tāmaki Makaurau.

Engineering these buildings is half art, half science. As the saying goes, “Art without Engineering is dreaming; Engineering without Art is calculating”. We at WSP Opus strive to think beyond the black box engineering so prevalent in today’s industry.

The sheer scale of high-rise structures and the quantity of materials and energy that go into them means they will be around for much, much longer, with their lifespan measured not in decades but in generations.

Over the next four to five years Auckland will gain several large-scale hospitality and residential high-rises, the likes of which have not been seen in New Zealand before.

Peter O’Leary, National Head of Structures, is excited about the change that is taking place in the city and that WSP Opus is involved in many of the projects.

The Auckland Unitary Plan guides how Auckland will grow, sets a direction for urban development and quality of growth with a view to increasing the density of development in urban locations and major transport routes.

“It’s fantastic to see this level of investment go into developing Auckland’s infrastructure, particularly these projects that will transform the skyline. There is a challenge for all stakeholders to ensure that developments are complementary to the vision for Auckland, a green city with excellent public spaces.”

Peter goes on to say that these buildings are now possible with the Auckland Unitary Plan and the types of high rise will extend into suburbs – already tall buildings are being proposed for Auckland’s suburbs including Albany, Manukau and New Lynn.

Auckand skyscrapers

Left to right: Artists’ impressions of the Pacifica (approx. 178m), Seascape (approx. 187m), 65 Federal Street (approx. 180m), Grace Apartments (approx. 33m).

What does future-ready mean?

Our environments are ever-evolving. What we know from global research, is that today’s design codes and solutions don’t necessarily account for the future we’re anticipating. Future-ready is about acknowledging designs that see the future more clearly by assessing, researching and forecasting future trends relevant to climate change, changes in societal living and digital and technological advances.

To date, the top-twenty buildings in Auckland averaged a total height of 23 storeys. Auckland’s anticipated new-builds will push the bar even higher with up to 10 buildings going over 35 storeys.

Current projects underway in Auckland have a forecast construction value of $41b by 2023. Here we assess the key developments.

The Pacifica will sit at 57-levels and cater to the demand for luxury living in the city centre. The complex will be split to encompass commercial suites, sky homes and penthouses. Key features include a community and entertainment level, exercise and relaxation facilities.

Seascape, another luxury high-rise, will sit 8m taller than the Pacifica. Set to finish in 2022 – the building will include four apartment types, 15 penthouse types, and an entertainment level.

65 Federal Street was announced last year and is estimated for completion in 2022. Although Federal Street is 7m shorter than Seascape – it’s placement in the city (on the ridge that joins Victoria Street) will allow it to appear taller. Federal Street will host a range of residential and commercial spaces, including a five star hotel, 226 apartments, a ground-floor marketplace, private wellness centre and rooftop gardens.

Grace Victoria Quarter Apartments will dominate from the Northern Motorway (SH1) as you approach the city centre. What it lacks in height, it makes up for in views; the complex offers 360-degree views of the harbour and city. Accompanying Auckland’s residential boom is the predicted $1b of commercial growth the region will experience by 2023. PwC’s new base, Commercial Bay takes reign in terms of stature. Taking centre-stage on the waterfront, the mammoth $680m development will reshape Auckland signature cityscape; setting Auckland’s urban scene from across the harbour.

And then there’s the commercial and civil projects that will bring positive disruption to the way we move, live and work: