In Auckland, New Zealand, the POAL Car Handling Facility is a functional piece of architecture designed to maximize port operations efficiency while engaging with the public as a canvas for large-scale contemporary art display. Designed by Plus Architecture, the recently opened building is set to become a home for large scale installations in the years to come.
The Port of Auckland forms the backbone of freight logistics and transport for most of New Zealand’s Upper Island. This 35,000 square meter, 5-storey project greatly improves car capacity and movement at the port, reducing the amount of space taken up by imported vehicles on the harbour by stacking vehicles vertically.
Beyond its immediate function, the building also serves to bridge the high-rise structures of Auckland’s CBD and the low-rise structures of the industrial port, all while serving as a catalyst for better public engagement between the city and the port.
Reaching completion at the end of 2020, the structure opened to public delight and fanfare with the unveiling of ‘The Lightship,’ a 110-meter-long digital light wall that wraps the western and southern walls of the Car Handling Facility. Future installations will come from both local and international contributors.
In addition to its role as a platform to celebrating artists and the creative community, the canvas that is the façade of the building is also one of the world’s largest soil-based vertical garden. The south wall features more than over 3800 plants, including 30 different species of which 75% are New Zealand natives. The gardens were designed by New Zealand company Hanging Gardens and everything incorporated in the design can either be reused or recycled. Plants are watered using a sensor-controlled irrigation system, integrated into the structure.