I’ve always had a soft spot for O’Connell Street. Sitting one up from High Street towards the top of Shortland Street, it’s not too long nor is it that busy. But there’s something about the heritage buildings, the quiet hum along with the shared space design that has always made me feel as though Auckland has some sort of hope for urban street design.
And so when I ventured down O’Connell St the other night, on my way back to my $3 car park at Chancery – book online and it’s super cheap – following a quick spot of desert at Miann, it was hard to miss the new public art installed high above me.
Light Weight O by Catherine Griffiths [pictured] is a piece commissioned by Auckland Council to sit high above the streetscape. Light Weight O is a large 2.4m diameter O that is faced on one side by a mirror and another by brass.
Griffiths has explained that the O is designed to “encourage those who work through O’Connell St to observe the above and the below and consider the space between”. The Piece serves as a reminder of the heritage of O’Connell St whilst considering the special nature of this built place in the natural environment.
The piece sits between 5 and 10 O’Connell St, between two 1925 heritage buildings that both have such amazing facades yet in essence are shaped as they are because of us.
Impressive facades, street pavings and businesses are all built on natural ground and this is what Griffiths is asking us to consider, the place of O’Connell Street to be such a special place while still acknowledging the natural environment it occupies, the sky, land and air.