WellUrban

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The other park


With all the talk about the glamourous, expensive new Waitangi Park, it's been easy to forget that there's another park that's been under development in Wellington: Glover Park. Maybe that's partly because work on the revamp seemed to have stalled for months, and the controversy over the censored mural has long since died down, but today it finally had its formal opening.

Glover park after the revampThe redesign isn't particularly radical, and the main emphasis has been on opening it up to the streets and remedying its previous gloominess by removing some trees, adding lighting and using light-coloured materials. It's currently lacking any sort of centrepiece or visual focus, but that's because there are still some "sculptural lighting structures" to come. I presume that the very crude wooden benches in the picture above are temporary placeholders until the lighting sculptures arrive.

Red details in Glover ParkPerhaps the most striking aspect of the redesign is the use of bright red paint on the street furniture. It's not the sort of colour that one usually associates with parks, but its been used liberally on bollards, tree protectors and lamp posts. The official reason for this is to be consistent with street furniture in Cuba Mall, but it's also a common colour on nearby buildings such as the Global Fabrics shop in the background of this photo. So this gets marks for contextualism, but it still looks a little bit Eighties, and not in a fashionable retro-glam-punk sort of way, but in a jolly-hockey-sticks municipal plaza sort of way.

Aesthetic debates notwithstanding, the main reason for the redesign was to make it safer and more appealing, and part of that requires attracting a critical mass of everyday users. Active edges have long been regarded as a pre-requisite of a well-used urban park, since they not only provide "eyes on the park" but ensure that there are always people coming and going. Apart from Zeal youth venue, Glover Park is bordered on two sides by blank walls and on the other sides by roads. As I've said before on WellUrban and on the Architectural Centre forums, it's widely regarded as a poor site for a park due to the lack of through traffic, sun and activities, so no matter how pretty it is as a park, it will always run the risk of being deserted except on the most clement days.

Glover Park entrance off Ghuznee StreetIt's interesting to look at the Ghuznee St entrance to the park. The park opens up to the street like a funnel, which is the right sort of gesture. However, the tree planters are placed smack in the middle of the normal pedestrian path down Ghuznee St, so that passers-by have to make a slight southward detour towards the park. This looks suspiciously like an admission that there's no point in trying to attract people into the park, so we'll have to herd them into it!

I might be being too cynical, and I hope so. It would be great to see this become a popular place for hanging out, but my gut feeling is that unless a café or something similar opens up on the eastern edge of the park, or Garrett and Bute streets become more of a destination, it could easily slip back into its old reputation as being too dangerous and deserted for "mainstream" Wellingtonians to frequent. But in the meantime, the Cuba "quarter" already has a great open space that's popular, lively and reflects a sense of place: Cuba Mall.

12 Comments:

At 11:58 PM, April 26, 2006, Anonymous Andy said...

The use of red, and the bamboo that's been planted alone one side gave me a sort of Chinese impression of the place.

 
At 10:32 AM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, I think you're right. I quite like the bamboo along the red wall of the building at (I think) 79 Ghuznee St.

 
At 11:11 AM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Jules van Cruysen said...

I had a lovely sit and read yesterday afternoon in Glover Park. A piece of licorice from Truffle anf a flatty from Krazy Lounge. It was a little cool though (the park not the coffee).

 
At 12:33 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous che tibby said...

are they planning on letting the homeless move back in?

 
At 10:05 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous George Darroch said...

It should get a little better once all that awful traffic moves to the road destroying the rest of the community, the bypass.

I've got a suggestion. They can have their bypass, and in exchange they pedestrianise the rest of the city? Fair deal I say. It has worked in Europe...

 
At 10:06 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous George Darroch said...

Nope, they designed the park to be homeless unfriendly

 
At 10:20 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

There doesn't seem to be anything specific in the urban development part of the draft long-term plan to improve Ghuznee St once it ceases to be State Highway 1. That's a pity, since I think one of the few benefits of the bypass would be the reduction of traffic here, unless the planners don't actually believe that the bypass will make any difference.

Have you noticed the real estate ads saying "Invest in Ghuznee Street! Property prices will go up once the bypass takes traffic away!"; while further up Te Aro the ads say "Invest here! Property prices will go up here once it's next to the bypass!"

 
At 12:02 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous che tibby said...

what they could do is adjust the parking arrangements and use the additional space for greening once the traffic moves.

currently the road is in effect 'four lanes' wide (with the parking spaces). they could put in angle parking on the northern side (two lanes), change ghuznee street to a single lane, and broaden the southern (sunnier) footpath.

by punctuating the angle parking with low-light greenery you beautiful the area, discourage the continuing use of cars in this part, and improve pedestrian access.

imho that is...

 
At 12:40 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger stephen said...

Tom:
> the planners don't actually
> believe that the bypass will
> make any difference.

C'mont, you never actually considered for a moment that they do, did you?

BTW have you got any idea what is supposed to be happening with all those 'motorway support'-type pillars between the Terrace off-ramp and the Clifton carpark? They appear to have been built for an as-of-yet non-existent motorway/lane which is aiming into the distance somewhere east of the current terrace tunnel.

Curiously yours...

 
At 7:27 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger bush whacker said...

...umm, no sign of toilets in the park... which surely must be a mistake - nowhere for people to go to the loo - and so they'll end up peeing on the fence again....

and re Ghuznee St: best thing would be to bollard it off either side of Cuba, letting the people walk right through without getting run over... that would be Serious traffic Calming.....

 
At 12:09 PM, May 02, 2006, Anonymous sbk said...

Would we really want to put in more barriers to pedestrian movement by placing in bollards in Ghuznee St? The idea that they stop car-hit-pedestrians is really a myth, they are more to stop cars parking on the curb...which happens anyway, but best to design the paving to handle this vehicle load rather deny it even happens?... As for mr tibby, I do believe the motorway supports were designed for a future lane.....

 
At 2:02 PM, May 02, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

sbk: I think that when bush whacker talks of bollarding off Ghuznee St, he's referring to bollards running north-south, blocking the traffic so that pedestrians get priority when crossing it. Hard to do without completely blocking off the traffic, but that wouldn't be a bad thing in my opinion!

I'm pretty sure that the Clifton Tce motorway pillars (I think that it was Stephen who mentioned them, not Che) were indeed designed to allow for future lanes. That's also why the old car yard between the Basin reserve and the new church (St Joseph's?) has been left vacant: Transit want to put a flyover over there at some stage. How come the only thing that ever seems to get foresight is motorways?

 

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