Newmarket’s New Station Square - Another Cold Soulless Concrete Jungle

Did they mix up the designs with that of the new Mt Eden Prison?

Did they mix up the designs with that of the new Mt Eden Prison?

How could they have done it yet again?

The new Newmarket station looks great. But Newmarket’s new “Station Square”, the Broadway entrance to the new station, looks like the sort of dreadful concrete jungle Auckland planners love.

It feels very mean to knock the public space before it’s officially opened but my strong bias about Auckland’s typically bland soulless concrete spaces like Aotea Square is well known.

Would it have been too much to expect something original and friendly, an asset to the surroundings like a tree - clad square acting as a welcome retreat from bustling car-heavy Broadway?

Oh for a tree or grass or something green. Or anything other than grey. The station itself is full of grey metal and concrete but its functional.

Why does this always have to be Official standard Council / Government Department Grey?new sculpture

There’s even a metal sculpture to add to the coldness.It reminds me of the Viaduct apartment area where the residents’ kids have to play soccer on the concrete outside amid another similarly looking metal sculpture.

I love art in the right place but these look more like train GPS receiving satellites than something that gives the large public square warmth and character. Maybe they are such technology disguised as art.

As for the name of the place - could it be any more boring!

Auckland City has now taken ownership of the square after the Hobson Community Board chose its rather obvious name from a final list of just as boring options - Newmarket Square and Teed Square .

The board also pondered the name Hillary Square as part of Auckland’s desperate attempt to find something to name the late mountaineer after. Sir Ed might have lived vaguely somewhere in the Remuera direction but I’m not sure of this connection with trains.

Is that really the best name wordsmiths could come up with?  The decision makers are so totally devoid of imagination, I’m surprised they didn’t settle for naming it Train Station.

Couldn’t we find a name attached to Newmarket history in that area that is more appropriate or something Kiwi - the modern Maori dictionary lists the word for train as Tereina which would be far more interesting.
new 32A sign in Broadway itself directs people to find 32 shops in the square. Real estate ads insist there are 45 on offer.
So far there are less than half a dozen tenanted including a small hairdresser and one of those small Asian-run food marts.

Will this stay empty, untenanted & unloved like Britomart did?

Will this stay empty, untenanted & unloved like Britomart did?

If shops remain untenanted, it will look even more unwelcoming.

Remember how unloved Britomart has been with some of its retail offerings?

There is an especially dead area where foot traffic was low because arriving passengers emerging from the top escalators tend to turn left to exit Queen St.

The area to the right was the subject of failed or empty tenancies for some time until its latest occupants, Subway and a magazine shop moved in but I can’t tell how well they’re doing because, like most commuters, I still turn left.

I still don’t understand why a decent cafe hasn’t started there. I mean a “proper cafe” in a shop setting and not on the open space floor. Maybe one with a train theme and historical photos along the wall. I know, I’m just a romantic.

But back to Newmarket.

It’s not only serving the railway patrons but is part of a complex that has 550 new apartments and 1000 car parks.

Will this be a friendly safe place for waiting commuters?

Will this be a friendly safe place for waiting commuters?

So will this be a safe relaxing place for waiting commuters?  Or, at night, will it attract dodgy folk loafing about along with homeless who pounce on the few wooden seats available?

Recently, locals joined Newmarket police in trying to stop one of the stores being a liquor store as they were worried about drunk people fuelled on cheap readily available liquor hanging about or youngful train passengers trying to score some alcohol.

new lay 2Newmarket’s Business Association has done a lot in recent times to crack down on crime, graffiti and the like in the area.

So we can hope that any concerns about safety are groundless.

But will it be a place most of us just walk through in a hurry to get a train as most people do in Britomart as it will require some colour and character before we feel there is a welcoming mat that makes us want to stop and explore or rest a while.

It’s not too late to at least ring up and order some trees.




  1. Brent C says:

    I think that the people that will fill the square will bring most of the flavour. I hope it attracts buskers and cafes. They are the best way of filling a street. It doesn’t need to be a damp dark place.

    Maybe once more of the waterfront is developed, more people will get off the train and head to the right? But it has a total lack of seating and doesn’t look too warm. Maybe if designs uterlized the natural sunlight, they would be better used

  2. Richard says:

    Jon you have stolen my words here! I went to have a look at Newmarket Station yesterday and took photos almost identical to yours.

    Station: .. Well done, appears very functional and time will tell

    “Square”.. Pathetically bland and uninviting screaming to be softened up and made welcoming. WHY DONT THEY GET PROPER ARCHITECTS AND LANDSCAPERS TO DESIGN THESE PLACES?????

    The adjacent apartments look similar to the disasters in downtown Auckland that only lack poles sticking out with washing to look like the back end of Hong Kong. Something needs to be added to the facade to break it up. Perhaps planter boxes on the balconies allowing pot plants to dangle
    down would soften up this cold face a bit.

    As you state Jon TREES. To me it called out for two or three trees, perhaps with seats around them?

    It’s not that hard is it????


  3. Joshua says:

    One other problem is the shops have small shop fronts, obviously to try and fit as many in as possible, not the best for a cafe setting. But it would be beneficial to for a cafe to set-up and use those long rectangular pot things to plant some low lying plants/hedge to spice the place up a bit, however it looks like yet another oportunity gone missing. We have to wait until the station opens and commuters start walking out to see how successful it really will be.

  4. Brent C says:

    The guy that named the square must have come from Palmerston North

  5. AR says:

    I agree with everything, but TEREINA? Could that name be any less cringeworthy?

  6. Jon C says:

    AR, yes I imagine no one will spell it correctly. There has to be something better out there!

  7. jarbury says:

    I think the square will be much better once all the shops have been leased. Also, the access from Broadway needs to be improved by widening the entrance (need to demolish a shop I think).

    Once a lot of people are using the station I think that it will hopefully be more vibrant too.

  8. Jeremy Harris says:

    Maybe they could put in a sculpture of a tree with a plaque reading:

    “In memory of a tree”

  9. Simon says:

    I agree with Jarbury. The shops in Britomart seem better patronised and the whole feel of the place has improved since more services were added (remember how few train services there were 5yrs ago compared with now) and more people are actually commuting to and from Britomart by rail. I remember how dead it was when it first opened. The stupidist thing is there isn`t an I-site in there when there damn well should be! Add to that the cafe up top closes far too early. Saddest thing about Britomart shops, the closure of the crepe place - it was fantastic.

    Anyway, back OT. I think the square will improve once the station is opened, and unlike Britomart, there will be lots of trains from day one.

    If there was one shop in Britomart that I`d like to see, it would be a rail souvenir shop with all sorts of rail-themed stationary, t-shirts and caps, and DVDs etc.
    It could sell Auckland rail themed merchandise as is done overseas.

  10. Johans says:

    I’ll be happy to donate a tree seed.

    Now would someone donate a jackhammer please?

  11. It definitely needs some trees and plants - you only need to see the difference this has made at Britomart to understand this. Behind the station they have invested in some planters and some foliage and it makes a world of difference - even if you do still look at the car park when you sit down!


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