The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 3 (July 1, 1930)
Auckland's New Railway Station — A Masterpiece of Modern Building
The builders are now putting the finishing touches on the new station at Auckland, and, in the course of a few months, this fine northern railway terminal will be officially opened. Some of the chief features and facilities of the new building are described in the following article.
Auckland's new railway station proves beyond doubt that Government buildings can be a combination of architectural beauty and usefulness.
Even now, when the interior scaffolding is being removed, one glimpses vistas of strong vital arches and immense spaces, which lend dignity to the future rendezvous of thousands of animated travellers.
It is not too early to judge the final result, although the clang of hammer and shovel and trowel makes mechanical music where formerly riveting machines, concrete drills, and lumbering winches occupied the attention of hundreds of workmen. Most of the essentials have been completed, and by September the last of the dust will have been cleared away, the tiles and counters dusted, and the brasses polished in readiness for alert porters and their parcels, a gold-braided stationmaster, and the rest of a busy and efficient staff.
It has been an immense task, building the finest railway station in New Zealand, and one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere. But it has been worth it, for this station is an architectural masterpiece and a monument worthy of a great State Department, and the City of Auckland.
The External Aspect.
Come with me up the sloping ramp from Beach Road, up which trams and motor cars will hustle with passengers soon after September. It is a wide and spacious thoroughfare leading to what might be the studded doors of some mediæval castle—adjusted to modern requirements. Along the balustrades workmen are placing the last of the decorative blocks of grey Coromandel granite, beautiful in texture, which will grow still more beautiful as it is tempered by the weather of years to come.
Notice, too, how this grey granite has been used for the whole base of the huge building. Surely it will tempt other architects and builders to demand such fine stone for similar ventures. There is no need to go overseas for it.
Avoid the bricks and beams, and step inside the main entrance hall. But for the scurrying noise of men polishing the marble floor it might page 30 be anything but a railway station—as New Zealanders know such a place. Gone are the corrugated iron roof and the warren of tiny offices. Everything is beauty and utility.
Interior Features of the Building.
High overhead is a ceiling in colour of intricate design. Pale green, rose and gold are the prevailing colours. Lower down is some of the finest brick-work ever seen in New Zealand, so perfect has it been modelled and adjusted. At either end are two immense columns of Whangarei marble—warm and delicately veined, and set off to perfection against the red bricks.
Above the entrance are two magnificent windows. Will the public appreciate the work which has been put into them, their dignity of style, and their cathedral-like quality? I think so, and yet, in admiring them, it would be possible and almost a privilege to miss a train. Telephone boxes have been adroitly hidden in the wide walls, part of the scheme of design, and yet not of it. How perfectly the architects have done their work here as elsewhere!
Out under a splendid arch of decorative brickwork on to the concourse—a wide and glass-covered thoroughfare, on to which open restaurant and tearooms, the post and telegraph office, ticket and luggage offices, waiting-rooms, bath rooms and lavatories, the barber's shop, book, sweet and fruit shops. From the side of this concourse run the underground passageways to the various platforms.
Here again, on the concourse, beauty has not been sacrificed. Along it runs a border of tiles in brown and dull orange, also used round the bases of the supporting pillars, and here and there, at regular intervals, specially designed tiles representing the history of transport—a delightful story in themselves.
Tiles and terracotta play a part of vast importance in the whole building. They are now regarded as one of the most perfect materials in modern building construction. They combine use, beauty, cleanliness and lasting quality, as no other material does. Terracotta, made in Australia, has been used on the outside of the station, and blends perfectly with the brickwork. But inside you will notice the tiles—and still more tiles. In the tearoom the counters and the lower parts of the walls are bright with tiles of a floral design; in the kitchen they are warm but not quite white, in the bathrooms they are pure white glaze with a design in blue; in the waiting-room there are two lovely Dutch tiles, works of art in themselves, and made by a process which could belong only to a master of his craft. These two are for decoration only.
Notice, too, the beauty of New Zealand polished rimu in the waiting-room; that lovely piece page 31 of wood-work in the ceiling. Here is New Zealand timber as it should be used.
Amenities of the New Station.
It would be a long story to tell of each office separately; of how radiators have been artfully placed in the walls as part of the general decorative scheme; of the 30 or 40 clocks which will tell the passing of time in any part of the building; of the huge forecourt facing the building where a tall and slender flag-pole will be surrounded by flowerbeds and grass plots; of the new concrete roads approaching and leaving the platforms; of the concealed lights which will flood the main entrance.
Auckland's new station is grand but not ornate. Its beauty will astonish the public; its comfort and convenience will positively startle them. Nothing has been left to chance—nothing is tawdry, efficiency and perfection have been the keynotes of a building which is to replace Auckland's present collection of offices, which does duty as the city's railway terminus.