Explore the latest projects from the UK’s commercial interiors industry, featuring the best of workspace, hospitality, living and public sectors.

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Conran and Partners reference Māori heritage and craft at Park Hyatt Auckland

Auckland’s Park Hyatt hotel offers a modern take on New Zealand’s iconic natural beauty and strong multicultural heritage, delivering distinctive luxury and sense of place.

26/07/2021 4 min read
Lobby from above

Overlooking Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour, the impressive seven-storey hotel offers four restaurants and bars, flexible event spaces, a day spa, swimming pool and gym – all wrapped up in Park Hyatt’s own concept of luxury, reflecting the brand’s contemporary and elegant nature.

Striking a careful balance between the urban landscape and New Zealand’s rich heritage, Conran and Partners’ design approach has been inspired by the surrounding harbour’s strong sense of place and the hotel’s close relationship to the vibrant city’s urban grain, as well as the maritime character of the area and multicultural society.

The client’s brief was to create a collection of unique but connected spaces with an unmistakable identity and a unifying sense of place. Each space within the new hotel, including the extensive F&B offering, has its own identity while being consistent with the overarching concept. ‘We have created a seamless journey through the series of spaces, contrasting dramatic volumes with intimate spaces,’ says the team. ‘On the whole we have sought to use natural and locally sourced materials, with references to Māori heritage and its arts and crafts, contrasted with modern influences from Europe and Asia scattered throughout.

Conran and Partners’ design for the guestrooms is inspired by nautical references with a warm palette of timber and fabrics and furniture in-built, as if on a yacht. The rooms have bespoke rugs based on Māori patterns: a custom woven fabric panel developed by a local iwi (people or tribe).
Working with the local iwi, large original works by Peata Larkin and woven tukutuku panels, created by artist Beronia Scott and her whānau (a complex Māori word meaning extended family or community) from the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, were commissioned to really cement the hotel in its location, giving a unique sense of place.

‘We were mindful to preserve the local culture and values of the Māori – the sustainability approach has therefore had a very strong cultural presence,’ we’re told. ‘Designed to reflect a wharenui meeting house, our design ensured the guests were engaged with authentic, local culture and that Māori artists and businesses were at the forefront of the design.

‘Given the hotel’s location, we were also very mindful to source materials locally and sustainably where possible, to minimise the carbon associated with shipping materials overseas. The design adopts a refined palette with natural materials like stone and timber used throughout.’

Being a country with such a green reputation, New Zealand has extremely strict sustainability requirements, which the team had to adhere to from the outset. The overall design includes two large rainwater retention tanks, rooftop solar panels and green walls with hanging gardens, which were integrated during construction.

Upon arrival, guests enter a striking reception area, taking them from an intimate porte cochère into a dramatic full-height atrium – revealing the bold architectural concept of open corridors and central courtyards. To create a human scale in such a grand and open space, the reception is housed in a pavilion, which is anchored by the tukutuku woven screen. On the ground floor, visitors mix with locals in the numerous public areas that surround the atrium and face out onto the harbourside and its public boardwalk.

Among these spaces is the Pantry, which faces the street and invites locals in, while The Living Room offers a contemporary twist on the lobby, with relaxed lounge furniture arranged on two levels looking out over the harbourside. The signature restaurant Onemata looks out onto harbour and sea from its prime corner location, and features a welcoming – yet minimal – interior, including an intimate private dining room.

‘It was important to us that, as well as being visually striking, the hotel was functional from an operational perspective,’ Conran explains. ‘We have therefore drawn on our decades of hospitality design to ensure that every design consideration was made with functionality in mind. Since opening, the hotel has been able to easily adapt to COVID restrictions, while ensuring that the 5* level of service and overall guest experience was not compromised.

‘With a typical Hyatt guest and their needs in mind, we have sought to provide a variety of considered and playful spaces, each with its own identity. Every journey for every type of guest or visitor has informed the design.’

It was key that (despite being a 29,000 sq m, vast hotel) wayfinding and the visitor journey throughout the variety of spaces and facilities was simple and logical, with each space naturally owing from one another, but also being expressive and exciting, with shifts in volume and atmosphere throughout. This consideration of how the hotel operates has been at the forefront of all design decisions, making the guest experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible.

‘The hotel’s atmosphere reflects the easy-going outlook which Kiwis are famed for,’ says the team. ‘Nonetheless, we have created a luxury hotel setting with a difference, balancing industrial gutsiness and urban references with locally-sourced, natural materials and Māori craft.’

This project is a finalist for Project of the Year, Hotel Interiors at the Mixology21 Awards.

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