WellUrban

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wrong building, wrong place


It's no secret that I'm generally in favour of density and high-rise living, as my cautious defence of the planned 8-storey complex at 158 Cuba St would indicate. But there are some developments on the way that get it wrong in so many ways that it's time to step back and consider better alternatives.

For instance, have a look at "Q on Taranaki", an apartment complex that's rumoured to be planned for the corner of Taranaki and Frederick streets. I first found it via SkyscraperCity, but there's a whole series of images on the architects' website. There are some vaguely interesting angles on the sliding screens and balconies, but otherwise this pair of unimaginative eleven-storey rectangles is grindingly dull and completely out of place.

Q on Taranaki - Frederick St elevations
Murdoch factory on the corner of Taranaki & Frederick streetsThe old Murdoch pickle factory that's currently on the corner is hardly an architectural gem, but it's an increasingly rare reminder of Te Aro's light industrial past. At least they've kept the Chinese Mission church, though it's hemmed in so unthinkingly by these brutes that some might say they needn't have bothered. Either one of the towers will be considerably taller and arguably uglier than the sludge-brown apartments on the other corner, so imagine two of these along Frederick St.

There's some hope that this is just a speculative series of drawings, as some of the council people I've spoken to haven't seen it, and apparently the land owner hasn't even sold the site yet. But I'm told that what's planned for the old Forest & Bird building across the road (the Art Deco one with the famous mural) is even more hideous. With so many car yards and single-storey big box stores on Taranaki St, it seems that the development of Te Aro, while arguably good for the life of the city, is going to need something resembling actual "planning" if it's not going to be an aesthetic disaster.

7 Comments:

At 6:21 pm, January 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep! those are certainly ugly. It's sad to see what's happening to Taranaki Street (all those car yards). I have always thought Taranaki Street had the potential to become one of Wellingtons premier streets in the future, if developed properly. I hope these apartments don't get resource consent. More disturbing is that these were designed by professional architects. Where the hell are you Ian Athfield?

 
At 7:42 pm, January 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, not the Murdoch factory! Ok, so it's a pretty pedestrian building, but I love the fact that I can buy Murdoch's pickles and icing sugar at my local supermarket and connect the contents of my kitchen back to a shabby old factory on Taranaki Street. For awhile it's been one of those buildings that, whenever I pass it, makes me wonder when it's number will be up. I guess that's now. The same goes for Forest & Bird since I noticed it was on the market (last year?). Doomed building spotting is becoming a slightly depressing habit of mine! The old defence building on the cnr of Taranki & Buckle is another I worry about. I'm sure the new earthquake rules have it squarely in their sight. I reckon Taranaki is already doomed, what with the hideous student hostels at the south end, and the other giant rubbish bins closer to this proposal.

 
At 9:13 am, January 17, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"Where the hell are you Ian Athfield?"

Designing this! Not his best work, and some people seem to loathe it, but it's got a subtle shapeliness and attention to detail that these Taranaki St lumps lack.

"More disturbing is that these were designed by professional architects."

Yes, but I don't think you can blame these entirely on the architects. The developers' brief is clearly visible in the designs: "Give me as many rentable/saleable square metres as possible, and add enough frilly bits to tick the boxes in the design guide, but no more. I'm planning to get at least two Ferarris out of the proceeds, so don't waste my money on good design!"

You could blame the architects for taking the jobs, but they've got to make a living.

 
At 4:30 pm, January 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Murdoch's building still has the very cool icing sugar advertisment in very faded paint on the north side (granted most of it is behind a hideous air-con unit thou)

That, along with the Champion Spark plug mural in Vivian Street are my two favorite signs in town, although when Vivian becomes two way it will probably turn into another dan carter's undies billboard...

Speaking of Chews lane, from my window I have been watching them slowly pull apart the old "Malthouse" , much Better than driving a dozer through it,
I guess the timber is actually worth something on the recycle market.

 
At 6:38 pm, January 17, 2007, Blogger Maximus said...

Yes, the Murdoch's icing sugar factory has a certain industrial chic, but really, it's not high quality architecture. Mind you, i'd far prefer it to stay than that hideous lump of cancer that is being proposed.

The real gem is the old Chinese Mission hall, designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere and completed in 1905. It is one of a number of inner city Wellington churches designed by Fred, and although the street is also called Frederick, that is named after an early NZ Bishop i believe (Just thought you'd like to know).

The church (founded to turn those heathen chinese opium smokers so rife in that region a century ago) is now fitted out as a studio for sound and video. Currently it houses Plan 9 (presumably 9b from Outer Space in a slightly obscure Ed Wood reference) who create some great video graphics. Previously it was a practice area (recording studio?) for bands, including Jakob and Batucada.

While it would be great to have it saved as a building, the life in the church at present resides in the clever souls within, which i feel would be ruined by a very soul-less money grabbing venture such as the twin towers of Mammon....

 
At 5:34 pm, April 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any information on the Murdoch factory? the history? I'm looking for anything i can find...can anyone help?

 
At 5:35 pm, April 18, 2008, Blogger Dan said...

Is there any information on the Murdoch factory? the history? I'm looking for anything i can find...can anyone help?

 

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