Fear and Loathing
The Dominion Post have followed up their lists of the best and worst buildings in Wellington (selected by the Architectural Centre) by telling us what "we" like and "loathe". It's not clear from the article exactly who "we" are: it seems to be a combination of reader's letters in response to the other lists, random vox pops, pupils from Upper Hutt College, and Russell Walden. I'd thus wager that the sample is not exactly scientific or representative of "us". Part of the article is online, but not the lists, so here they are:
Te Puni Kōkiri
Public Library and Civic Square
St Francis de Sales Church, Island Bay
Old St Paul's
Government wooden buildings
Wellington railway station
Berhampore State Flats
Car Park, Boulcott St
QBA apartments, Webb St
Apartments at 318 Oriental Parade
Southern Plumbing, Brooklyn
Ruins on the corner of Kent Tce and Dufferin St
Gateway Apartments above Pt Jerningham
Wakefield St apartments
Most of the "liked" list is uncontroversial, though they've gone beyond the age limit set by the Architectural Centre in their original list, and I don't know St Francis de Sales Church well enough to comment. There are many among the loathed that I agree with, though I don't mind Te Papa as much as some do and I quite like the QBA apartments. It's interesting to see that the Wakefield apartments were the only ones from the architects' list to be hated by "the public", though I wonder how many people would mention them unprompted.
I scratched my head over 318 Oriental Parade, since it didn't stand out in my memory. As far as I can work out, it's the one highlighted in this photo.
It's a fairly typical example of the sort of cheesy "upmarket" postmodernism that ruled through the 80s and 90s, but there are plenty of worse examples around. It's certainly nowhere near as loathsome as its neighbour to the south, which stomps up the hill in a series of galumphingly heavy and poorly detailed terraces, so I wonder whether someone got them mixed up. Then again, the article mentions that "readers also hated the Oriental Parade high-rise in which mayor Kerry Prendergast lives with her husband, developer Rex Nicholls", so maybe this is the one they're referring to, and it's just a convenient chance to get in a dig at Rex & Kerry.
I was interested to see that Walden picked out the new Audi-Porsche dealership in Cambridge Tce as one of his favourites. I quite like it as a building, with its high-tech detailing almost reminiscent of Nicholas Grimshaw, but to me it's exactly the wrong sort of typology to be encouraging in the inner city. Instead of low-rise, single use car yards surrounded by vast areas of asphalt, we need to make the most of the space and put such retail outlets at the base of multi-storey apartment of office buildings. There are so many better buildings to be highlighting at the moment.