Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Yesterday I took part in Urbanism Down Under's tour of recent multi-unit developments in the inner suburbs. Densification is a vital part of sustainable growth, so it's a pity to see that so much infill is so poorly designed. The Aqua apartments (in Oriental Pde opposite Waitangi Park) are an exception, combining crisp modernity with enough articulation to prevent a monolithic appearance. Others in Mt Cook reveal an exclusive concern for profit at the expense of aesthetics and neighbourliness.

Assessing the Greta Point development was trickier. The unfriendly entrance, faux-Tuscan cheesiness, poor relationship to the water and forlorn token "community spaces" didn't auger well, despite the soundness of the basic typology. But then a few people appeared at their windows for a chat (at 4pm on a Friday) and some children came out to play, giving the place a semblance of life.

I can't see this ever succeeding as a true mixed-use neighbourhood, given its physical isolation from work, schools and shops. But despite this, and its preponderance of orange plasterboard, its claim to be a community might not be too farfetched.


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