Carla Miller

Shaping the shore

Bachelor of Design Interior Design Public Space Experience Design Food Material Imaginaries Public Surface Community

I feel the ocean pulling away as my feet sink deeper into the sand. I see the imprint of rippled waves that, like shadows, exist only for a second before being transformed once again. As I continue to walk along the beach – leaping onto a bed of rock, avoiding the dips and edges that are formed by the constant abrasion of water — I truly understand the strength of the ocean. These imprints reveal how for thousands of years the ocean has built and broken our shores: shaping and continually reshaping our world.


My proposal is situated in Imperial Lane off Fort Lane. The buildings that now form Imperial lane were initially built between 1886 and 1911. The lane was formed as part of a redevelopment in 2011 by architects Fearon and Hay. It offers a sense of wonder, with dark interiors and beaming volumes of natural light. I saw potential to enhance these qualities. I was inspired by Auckland’s former shoreline, that ran along Fort Street prior to the reclamation of Commercial Bay in 1870.

My design proposal is a cocktail bar with both a brunch and dinner menu, to expand the usage of the lane, which is currently more oriented to nightlife. The interior character of imperial lane is well-suited to the dimmed and intimate experience of such a bar. I have ensured a coherent dining experience by focusing on the idea of breathing in nature by blurring the line between our built environment and our natural environment. As we blur this line, we draw the visitor’s experience away from the urban context and back to the old shoreline. I want the audience to experience this lost scene in a subtle, suggestive manner. I become interested in the narrative of how the ocean shapes the shore as well as the underlying concept of time. On the coast this is seen by the breaking down and building up of rock as well as the constant tides patterning the sand. These delicate moments have informed my use of materials, surface design, and form. Rather than replicate the shore I seek to reactivate it through new material narratives