Building rumours 10: new BNZ at Harbour Quays
I've wondered before about images of the planned new BNZ building at Harbour Quays, and I've just had a pointer from a helpful reader to say that there's now a publication on the CentrePort website (458kB PDF) with a couple of renders. Here's the first, from an angle we haven't seen before (click for a larger version):
I'm inclined to think that this doesn't look too bad: its undeniable bulk is broken down into multiple volumes, and there's quite a variety of surface treatments. There's also intended to be retail on the ground floor, and there's a fair amount of shelter for pedestrians, at least along Waterloo Quay. It's from the south that it all starts to go pear-shaped (at least, if pears were shaped like great big square boxes):
From this angle, you can just make out that there is still some attempt to break down the volume, but the boxy outer skin that wraps over the roof and southwest elevation dooms that attempt to failure and it ends up looking monolithic again. That southwest elevation also looks problematic, as it seems rather blank for a six-storey wall that will loom over the much lower Bluebridge building.
The whole thing looks far too imposing for a single building so close to the water's edge, especially when compared to something like the Meridian building not far south of here, which uses curves, setbacks and roof details to decrease its visual impact. In the latter case, it's clear that the public spaces were planned first and the buildings specified to define support them: while there is a masterplan for Harbour Quays, it's hard not to get the impression that the brief was to create as much cheap floor space as possible, and then make some reluctant efforts to fit some spaces around them.
It still seems hard to reconcile these renders with either the published masterplan or the apparent boundaries of the building site, part of which you can make out from the webcam. Those both indicate a footprint resembling a parallelogram, whereas the renders show something much more rectangular. Perhaps there's still hope that these images are slightly inaccurate, or from confusing viewpoints, and the final building will have some more interesting angles. But I wouldn't (ahem) bank on it.