Rifle Range, Hobsonville Point Coastal Walkway
The Hobsonville Point Coastal Walkway is the work of Isthmus Group for client HLC. It is part of Auckland's new master-planned residential community for the Point. This 4km walkway forms a circuit around two thirds of the Hobsonville Point site and features along its paths integrated art, playing areas, resting places and visual reminders of the area's history. Some reminders remain in the form of built structures - part of the legacy of use of the wider site by Defence Forces. Integrating such features into the walkway circuit allows direct reference and a chance for reflection on an earlier, potentially hostile, history.
Salmond Reed Architects was engaged by the Isthmus Group to assist with the repair and restoration of the structures that were part of the former RNZAF Rifle Range. The goals was to make each structure safe while retaining and showcasing heritage character.
In its day, this area was used as a shooting range for military training. The Rifle Range was originally formed by modifying the original landscape to create bunds and earth walls, in which were constructed utilitarian reinforced concrete structures.
The largest structure, the "shooting butt" or "stop-butt," consists of a retaining wall behind the target line with a vast earth mound to catch misaligned shots. Early photos show the earth mound uncovered and stepped side walls retaining the mound. Over the years these side walls were filled in to allow for a new roof over and the back wall was extended both vertically and horizontally. Approximately 25m in front of this structure stand the Firing Point; a covered building with an open side facing the shooting butt and a partially sloping concrete floor where shooters would lie down and practice, firing into the butt. The other smaller buildings were presumably used for storage.
This landscaping and restoration project builds on the inherited modified landform and has retained the remnant structures, with minor modifications to allow them to be used as recreational and performance spaces by schools and community groups. The repurposed buildings now provide a play pod for children, a lounge pod for youth and a stage for performances, with a landscaped terraced area in front.
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