The Welcome Shelter at the Longbush Ecosanctuary is the brainchild of a remarkable young architect, Sarosh Mulla.
Sarosh, recipient of an AMP National Scholarship, has already exhibited his work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Welcome Shelter is part of his PhD at the University of Auckland, on relations between built structures and the environment.
The Welcome Shelter is designed as an outdoor classroom, with a large floating roof over three elegant wooden ‘boxes’ used for storage, a composting toilet, water and a lookout tower. Small terraces and planting boxes create a space in the landscape to welcome visitors, and to explore different aspects of Longbush and its rare and endangered species of plants and animals.
The 1769 garden, based on descendants of plants collected on the East Coast by scientists from James Cook’s ship Endeavour, now growing at Kew Gardens in England, will be planted around the Welcome Shelter in time for the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour’s arrival.
At the Welcome Shelter, stories will be told about the pre-human landscape at Longbush, its plant and animal inhabitants, the impact of the first Polynesian arrivals and Maori settlement, the first European arrivals and its settler history.
Transformations in local landforms, waterways and plants and animals over the last 700 years will be traced, exploring and celebrating the communities of rare and endangered species in the Waimata Valley.
Sarosh has raised sponsorship and funding from many sources for the Welcome Shelter, and organised teams of volunteers to prefabricate and erect the structure – an outstanding exercise in collaborative place making.