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Auckland Harbor
Remaking the Waterfront

By Sean Stowell






The pavers chosen for their dramatic colors did not have the normal spacer lugs to ensure the exact spacing between the units for the jointing sand, so the installers catered for this contingency by installing the pavers on the uncompacted bedding sand in the normal way leaving 1/16-inch spaces between the pavers. They then brushed in a small amount of joint sand to fill the bottom third of the joints before carrying out the initial plate compaction of the pavement. This ensured that the pavers retained their exact alignment.


The Auckland, New Zealand city council together with private developers proposed rebuilding the prestigious Waterfront boardwalk around the picturesque bay, upgrading this popular tourist section of the city.

The decision to beautify the waterfront was taken after much research and studies that were made of similar boardwalks not only in Australia but as far afield as Europe and South Africa. Feedback obtained from developers in those countries was that quite apart from the established cost saving benefits that were easily confirmed by doing lifecycle studies, other more important benefits would be obtained.

With the America's Cup coming that year in 1999, the city wanted its harbor to look its best. That year 10 challengers from seven different countries came to Auckland to race for the Cup. Team New Zealand came out victorious. The race was held in Auckland again last year this time a team from Switzerland came home with the Cup.






The pavers were installed on a sand bed over an aggregate base and jointed in sand. This method of setting was chosen because the city wanted a pavement that would be built for posterity in this historic harbor. They also specified that it should perform with the absolute minimum maintenance cost.


Auckland is a very unique city. It features three harbors, two mountain ranges and 48 volcanic cones. Its population is approximately 1.3 million, which accounts for nearly a third of the entire country's population.

What they learned was that tremendous socio-economic benefits had accrued to those developers in particular, and the cities as a whole. By introducing the decorative paving, they created a whole new environment. These pavements not only provided attractive settings, but that by up-scaling of the whole neighborhood in the process, they also changed the demographic mix of visitors. A whole new higher income group of tourists started visiting those waterfront areas that had previously been the haunt of a somewhat undesirable element.

The drug peddlers and their accompanying clients who used to ply their trade there started to feel uncomfortable and moved away to less highlighted venues. This realization led in turn to the owners pf properties fronting these developments to upgrade their own properties to reap better returns on what had been somewhat downscale investments. One such development in Cape Town, South Africa changed a deserted, dangerous old fishing harbor into the second most visited tourist venue in Africa. It all started with some colored decorative paving and became a win-win return for everyone involved.

According to Peter van Niekerk, president of Surebond International, Inc., cities with harbors around the world are looking to transform themselves into upscale multi-use developments. van Niekerk's role in the project was to distribute the sealer in New Zealand and talk to city engineers about how the pavers would be used, and to give those with a stake in the project peace of mind as to how the sealer worked.






The Auckland developers chose pavers in four different contrasting colors, to be installed in a variety of patterns.


"Places like Auckland and Cape Town, South Africa have transformed their harbors into areas with restaurants and malls," he said. "Some even have residential areas with million dollar homes on the water. These places have evolved from derelict harbors with man sized rats to clean and refurbished areas with cruise ships and masses of people."

According to Surebond Inc. President Garry Perkins there is more development planned for Auckland Harbor, including an amusement park that the company will supply their sealants for.

"There is a lot of work going on over there now," van Niekerk said. "The city has had a lot of success with this project and they are planning on doing more."

The architects for the Auckland project, City Design, working with the international firm of consulting civil engineers, Ove Arup ad Partners, elected to use patterned clay pavers manufactured in Australia by Nu Brick, as the primary surfacing material with cobblestone features in some of the high profile restaurant areas.

"Clay bricks were used in Europe and they have lasted for nearly 300 years," van Niekerk said. "This project at Auckland Harbor was definitely built for posterity."

The Auckland developers chose pavers in four different contrasting colors to be installed in a variety of patterns on a sand bed over an aggregate base and jointed in sand. This method of setting was chosen because the city wanted a pavement that would hold up and perform with the absolute minimum maintenance cost.

The pavers chosen for their dramatic colors did not have the normal spacer lugs to ensure the exact spacing between the units for the jointing sand, so the installers catered for this contingency by installing the pavers on the uncompacted bedding sand in the normal way leaving 1/16-inch spaces between the pavers. They then brushed in a small amount of joint sand to fill the bottom third of the joints before carrying out the initial plate compaction of the pavement. This ensured that the pavers retained their exact alignment.






The developers elected to use patterned clay pavers manufactured in Australia as the primary surfacing material after seeing clay pavers in Europe that were more than 200 years old.


Once they were certain that they had established the correct lines, spaces and patterns, the joints were filled with joint sand to the bottom of the chamfers. Then they carried out a final pass of the plate compactor to solidly bed the pavers and create the final interlock. Surebond SB-1300 clear stabilizing sealer was then applied to the pavement by pumping the material directly out of the drums using a low-pressure bulk sprayer. The sealer protects against water and salt penetration and has the best breathability to release trapped moisture vapor that can freeze, causing spalling and cracking failures to pavers. The excess material was squeegeed into the joints to bond up the sand and allowed to cure for 24 hours.

Van Niekerk visited the project in 2001, two years after the completion, and reported that everything has held up well against the tough waterfront conditions of the harbor.

"We've done many large-scale projects like this," van Niekerk said. "Projects such as Palm Springs, the area around the arena in Columbus, Ohio, have all held up well."

The end result has been an unqualified success. The pavement has been fully tested by not only normal traffic but by the very heavy construction traffic during the wetter than normal New Zealand climate. Not a single damaged or chipped element was observed in the entire pavement during a walkthrough done some six months after the contract was completed. The performance life of the pavement has been estimated at 100 years.

"This is typical of many waterfront developments," van Niekerk said. "There are markets, restaurants, fishing boast, cruise ships. The idea of this development was to include the demographics of the city. Auckland Harbor was dangerous, but now it has completely changed. There are a lot of up-market shops and up-market people.

"It's a lot safer there now. The hardscaping of the harbor changed the whole area."

Peter van Niekerk, president of Surebond International, Inc., contributed editorial content to this article.



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November 18, 2019, 11:12 am PDT

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