Standing at 70-metres tall, the Sky Garden concept includes six zip lines, a 55m jungle swing, New Zealand’s highest water-touch bungy, and a dry slide wrapping around the timber structure. Below the tower, guests can sit at the café, relax at the hot springs, or wander the boardwalk through a reinstated wetland-themed garden. The concept also includes a viewing platform on the roof of the amenity building, where visitors and friends can watch and encourage the jumpers.
Working alongside the client, the team's role was to design a concept for an innovative tourism hub that not only offers an exciting world-class experience but also responds to the New Zealand landscape.
The initial concept stems from the expression of a native Kauri tree emerging from the natural wetlands. The three-tower scheme enables the functionality for three people to enjoy the swing simultaneously. The tower platform is designed to be off-centre and provides a dramatic cantilever that complies with jump regulations and distance requirements. The shape of the platform also gives friends and spectators a close-up view of the jumpers. The main tower can be accessed by a glass lift or wrap-around stairs.
The scheme includes an amenity building for ticket sales, a café, and an extended workshop for inspection of bungy cords. The building form is simple and follows the contours with a roofline that flares up, allowing uninterrupted views of the top of the tower from the café. The structure is designed to create maximum visual drama from the ground and give visitors the opportunity to view the action from below.
Use of timber allows the design to fit in within the wider landscape without being too harsh and obstructive. Materials are locally sourced from renewable forests and are FSC certified. The design exceeds the New Zealand Green Building Standards.
The Waikato Sky Garden concept was a finalist in the 2019 World Architecture Festival in the Leisure Led Development – Future Project category.