Piha rescue tower attracts attention abroad

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Piha, on Auckland’s west coast, is one of the country’s best-known beaches.

Now he has a new concrete creation – Te Pae – a watchtower for the lifeguards of the United North Piha club.

“It’s a really sturdy building,” says Victoria Mulrennan, the club’s lifesaving manager.

“We’re going from howling west coast winds to sweltering heat, and we’re lucky with the concrete, which is going to protect us.”

The distinctive look of the tower has earned it the nickname of the locals, who call it the “robot lama”.

“It was really a surprise for us,” says Mulrennan. “It’s not quite what we expected, but we’re happy for everything as long as they’re behind.”

It’s not just about being noticed at Piha. It is also attracting attention abroad, being selected for the World Architecture Festival in Portugal in November.

“It’s easy to do the same old, same old,” says Ken Crosson, the architect behind the design. “But something that’s memorable, I think people sign up for longer.”

The tower is part of a makeover with the clubhouse next in line for an upgrade.

The club is still appealing for donations for the rest of the project.

“We received over $100,000 from the people of Piha alone,” Mulrennan says.

“We’re not quite there yet, in terms of building and funding, so we’re really counting on the public and the community to support us.”

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