WellUrban

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

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Promenade


The promenade between the Chaffers Dock complex and Chaffers Marina is finally open, after being closed for construction for a very long time. It's still not possible to walk from the eastern end directly to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, as they're still asphalting that part, but you can now at least walk along the waterfront edge of the buildings then along the eastern side to Waitangi Park.

Promenade between the Chaffers Dock complex and Chaffers MarinaBoatshed apartments, Chaffers DockThere are still some of the familiar spherical light/bollard fixtures to be installed along the edge, but it's great to be able to walk along the promenade and get a feel for the new architecture. The "Boatsheds" apartments are full of interesting angles and a great play of light, and while they're still unmistakably modernist, they're certainly not a boring rectilinear lump. It may be that the openness of the waterfront environment compared to a tight city site, combined with the extra design scrutiny that applies to waterfront developments, have allowed and encouraged a slightly more adventurous design. Nevertheless, I wish that more of the recent apartment buildings in the city experimented with such varied forms.

My only real disappointment so far is that, as I mentioned a week ago, the first ground floor tenant to open for business is Subway. I'm not sure that the bloggers' boycott will do their business any harm (now, if certain bloggers boycotted pizza, that could send a few places out of business), and in fact on their first day there seemed to be more people inside than were on all of Waitangi Park's lawn. But it just seems to cheapen the entire building, in a way that wouldn't matter so much in other locations. I don't think it's just snobbery on my part: Subway stores follow such a strict design formula that they were unable to respond to the unique architecture and environment. Other, more local chains (like Wishbone or Mojo, for example) would seem more likely to have come up with a customised interior that wouldn't compromise the elegance of the building.

But the rest is looking good. Fitout of The Port Café seems to be coming along, and the two tenancies on the southern, park-facing side will be Mövenpick and something called "Chaffers Store", which I assume will be some sort of dairy or convenience store (and I'm so glad it's not a StarMart!). All of these seem like highly appropriate ground-floor businesses for a building between a park and the waterfront, and with people already living in the apartments above, this part of the waterfront looks like it's finally becoming a part of the city.

8 Comments:

At 5:26 PM, May 13, 2007, Anonymous Brenda said...

i'm dreaming already of something like kaffes eis opening -- icecreams on the waterfront.

 
At 10:32 AM, May 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But it is not that hard to walk to Frank Kitts park , or Oriental Parade, .. or up to Courtenay place thou :)

I hope some thought will go into "linking" the exisiting waterfront paths ( infront otf chaffers and the lower boardwalk)across the entrance to the overseas terminal to the footpath around oriental Bay, rather than just having it just cross a bland black asphelt strip , But I suspect they will do the minimum in knowledge that the terminal is the next likely construction site to begin on the waterfront,

 
At 11:52 AM, May 14, 2007, Blogger Joanna said...

Or you could just get Movenpick...

 
At 11:54 AM, May 14, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, I think I'd have preferred Kaffee Eis, but I think Movenpick should be pretty damn good, too.

"But it is not that hard to walk to Frank Kitts park , or Oriental Parade, .. or up to Courtenay place thou :)"

Possibly harder than you think, especially the Courtenay Place branch, since by the time you've crossed Cable St, Wakefield St and Courtenay Place and come back again, your gelato will have either melted or been eaten already! Ice cream is very much an impulse product, and having an outlet right there between the promenade and the park would make a lot of sense.

"I hope some thought will go into "linking" the exisiting waterfront paths ... rather than just having it just cross a bland black asphelt strip , But I suspect they will do the minimum in knowledge that the terminal is the next likely construction site to begin on the waterfront"

Not so much the OPT as the John Wardle buildings, which are planned to go between in Area 3 between Chaffers Dock and the Oriental Bay Marina. The design of the buildings and associated public spaces is still being finalised, but I think there will at least be some minimal landscaping in the interim (in the midst of a lot of carparking, unfortunately).

 
At 3:12 PM, May 14, 2007, Anonymous Jimmy said...

Perhaps Mojo & Wishbone might look better architecturally, but the fact that you can get their producst only a couple of hundred metres away from where you stand surely doesn't add much to the building as a whole?

These chain stores are depressing - they just keep expanding and expanding and expanding. Yuck.

 
At 7:49 PM, May 14, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

I'd certainly prefer something totally unique, but if it had to be a chain, then something that

(a) is not globally ubiquitous,
(b) varies its design from one store to the next and
(c) is damned tasty

would be preferable to something like Subway or Starbucks.

 
At 4:30 PM, July 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Jimmy, how dare these companies be succesful......

 
At 4:48 PM, July 09, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Anon: there's nothing wrong with success per se, but when that success comes at the expense of variety, local flavour and competition, it's right to question it.

 

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