An eight metre tall cupola covered in fine gold leaf has been installed on top of the Hundertwasser Art Centre, which is currently under construction in Whangārei.
The building was designed for the city by the late Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived in Northland for nearly 30 years and was a New Zealand citizen.
The gold cupola was a signature feature of Hundertwasser’s architectural designs.
“We are creating a totally unique and iconic new tourism destination for New Zealand” Hundertwasser Art Centre chief executive Kathleen Drumm said.
“Ticket holders will be able to walk on the roof and up to the tower where they can stand directly beneath the cupola. On the way they’ll enjoy the largest afforested roof in the southern hemisphere with over 4,000 plants.”
The 3.5 tonne cupola was made in Whangārei and was barged up the Hatea River before being lifted into place.
The gold leaf which covers it is extremely thin, with 1000 sheets required to make just 1mm in thickness.
Drumm said that because the gold is so thin and covered in a protective clear coat, any attempt to remove it would render the gold worthless as it would virtually disintegrate.
Undisturbed, gold leaf is extremely durable and could be expected to last around 100 years.
The Art Centre will hold the only permanent display of Hundertwasser works outside of Austria. It will also be home to the Wairau Māori Art Gallery, a national gallery dedicated to contemporary Māori art.
The Hundertwasser Art Centre is due to open in December.