There’s something pretty wonderful about St Kevin’s Arcade on K’ Rd in Auckland. I think the coffee even tastes better because of the intricacy of the architectural space. Mixed with a decent dose of nostalgia (those pink-iced cakes of childhood shopping expeditions to town), it’s a place that seems to conjure pleasant memories in almost everyone you mention it to.
I don’t know about the commerical success of the shops tenanted there, but the building’s elaboration as thoroughfare (from K’ Rd to Myers Park), and the transparency of its spatial articulations balance a strangely predictable and attractive mysteriousness. Perhaps “mysteriousness” isn’t exactly the right word, maybe magic is closer to what I mean. The rigorous symmetry and order articulated by the fineness of balustrade detailing, and the judicious directing of light transport you to another and more delicate world.
It’s easy to forget you’re in C21st Auckland. Its architecture (by Walter Arthur Cumming, 1924, 1926) is an increasing rarity, and one which seems to have vanished from Wellington’s cityscape – if indeed it ever existed. Did we ever have such generous stairs cutting through interior arcades, linking city traffic to an urban park oasis? or is it our lack of large inner city parks with broad expanses of lawn which means St Kevin’s is a unique Auckland experience? … and (as importantly) where is the best place in town to get those wonderfully pink-iced cakes anyway?