Fagan Vad 13, Sunday 26 Mar 2017
Shree Swaminarayan Temple Auckland (ISSO)
10-12 Wentwort Ave,
Phone: +64 92741730
Construction & Architectural Facts
The Temple complex is on a 2,255 sq metre section on Wentworth Avenue, Papatoetoe. This site is in the heart of Papatoetoe and location wise has good access to Southern motorway and is well known to the Indian community.
The building itself is over 900 sq metres and has been made with a total commitment to quality, innovation and practical utilization. The building process was an extensive process with true dedication to the management of costs, whilst not detracting from the sustainability and longevity for many years to come. Teams from New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, America, India, Dubai and Singapore have all been extensively involved in the project. Where possible New Zealand products were sourced. As an example enough timber was purchased locally to build the equivalent of 20 large town houses.
GRC External Cladding
Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) sourced from Hong Kong has been used for the entire exterior of the building. This unique product has features that have enabled a unique structure never before seen in New Zealand. GRC is a product made predominantly from recycled glass that has the ability to be pigmented throughout. This enabled the unique ability to ensure traditional sandstone colouring for the entire building with no risk of damage, future painting or colour fading. GRC is a concrete that is able to be hand carved and designed. A team of 8 carvers personally designed the entire exterior and domes by working with the GRC teams in China and Hong Kong for 4 months in 2005. The result has been a uniquely designed and carved concrete exterior depicting traditional Indian symbols, design and motifs. Already this is been recognized by our spiritual elders and colleagues around the world as a leader in exterior design. GRC itself is extremely practical as well as beautiful. Each tile can weigh up to one tonne with over thirty 40-foot open containers of tiles having been used on the building. The product is graffiti proof and due to the abundance of glass and silicone within the product makes a shimmering effect through natural and halogen lighting systems.
The contractor for the interior design elements was a critical selection for our project. They were selected after extensive research and came with an impressive cv. They had previously built many Hindu temples throughout India, United States and Europe, and possibly his greatest recognition came when they was asked to design and construct the entrance doors for the Mecca, the holiest of Muslim worship places. An honour never bestowed on a Non-Muslim before. The team of workers totaled some 120 designers and carvers whom worked for a period of 4 years on this assignment.
Each door in the building has been hand carved in intricate detail and then in the most labour intensive of methods sheet coated with Gold Leaf and German Silver. This process of interior decor can not be replicated by machine or moulding and remains a lifelong method of ensuring quality and maintaing original status.
Over 780 hand carved wooden panels have been used as ceiling decoration. Each one is uniquely designed and a typical 1m x 1m tile takes some 40 man hours of carving and finishing. An absolute highlight of this is two 3m x 3m inverted tiered carved insets that depict the detail of traditional design from which the Chandeliers hang. These individually weighed 1 tonne each and are spectacular in detail. In the entrance to the temple a circular inverted ceiling has been hand carved and coated in gold leaf, which allows patrons to feel the immediate openness and design aspects of traditional Indian monuments.
Two spectacular pieces of artwork make the hall a truly remarkable experience for all whom visit. Firstly, above the stage sits a 3 dimensional hand carved and hand painted depiction of the the Arjun Ruth. This scene is the traditional scene of Krishna and Arjun in the heat of battle and has 5 horses protruding from the wall and an inset chariot, hand carvers and coated in Gold Leaf and German Silver. This striking piece of work which spans over 35 sq meteres, has taken 10 people over 8 months to complete. Secondly is a visual extravaganca of 3 dimensional murals of the story of Lord Swaminarayan. These painting span the top quarter of the walls and display the highlights and milestones of Lord Swaminarayan.
Lighting and Sound
Extensive engagement with Lighting Planners has ensured that both the exterior and interior lighting ensures maximisation of visual delight throughout the day and evening. Over 100 purpose designed halogen lights will light the exterior GRC and internally over 400 strategically placed bulbs will ensure spiritual and visual enchantment of the ceilings, murals and deities. Mood is extremely important within the facility and lighting has been designed to ensure flexibility to cater for celebratory events, religious prayer and contemplation. As many functions will include large gatherings of people and international events maybe broadcast live, a state of the art sound and movie system has been included. This system ensures complete sound quality allowing not just for the size of the building but to work effectively with the wood, granite and other structures in the building. The Audio-Visual system is of the highest quality and is the same as used by Hoyts Cinema's. Chandeliers will light the main hall and temple dazzling the floor and ceiling. The supplier of the chandelier is the same supplier of lighting to the White House in Washington and many other exclusive buildings and structures.
The entire flooring of the complex is Granite and has an underfloor heating system. The Granite has been sourced from around the world, specifically, Asia, Middle East and Africa. Dependant upon colour requirements etc, the team have sourced the specific material from the appropriate region in the world.
There are many other aspects of the building of which ISSO very proud. Clearly the process of integrating such design, bringing many cultures of workers and suppliers together, and maintaining the charitable focus of our temple has been a challenge, but we are extremely pleased with the results.
The building is a highlight not just of South Auckland and New Zealand, but is renowned internationally. Aakshardam, one of the historic worship places has recently been recognized as a wonder of the world and we are pleased that our culture and design is being valued at that level.