WellUrban

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

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Musical stadia

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Where will the Indoor Sports Centre end up?I've pretty much given up trying to follow the convoluted saga of the Indoor Sports Centre. The initial vision was to locate it above the Westpac Stadium concourse: a great use of space and a sensible location. Then in February last year the council decided it would be too expensive, so it would have to go on Cobham Park in Kilbirnie: a terrible location for a regional stadium, but not so bad for a facility aimed at local schools. But in August they changed their minds again, and wanted to put it at Harbour Quays, just across the road from the original site. Almost immediately, CentrePort said "Not so fast, we're still using that site", but reports a few months later sounded very positive and just before Christmas, it sounded like a done deal. Then last week, the council decided to go back to Kilbirnie, citing "more complex site issues [at Harbour Quays] that would have been expensive to resolve and delayed construction". Despite a leaked report about traffic problems with the Kilbirnie site, and Cr Andy Foster calling the decision "mad" and a "terrible idea", that sounded like a final decision.

But is anything "final" when it comes to this farce? According to today's Wellingtonian, "the decision does not necessarily rule out the regional stadium also being built on port land within the next 10 years". The council have apparently placed a ten-year moratorium on use of the port land, and the Mayor maintains that it's the best site for some sort of "multi-use facility", which the Wellingtonian's editor interprets as possibly "an 8000 to 10,000 seat stadium that could host indoor sports games and concerts". That may end up being the best result overall: a community-oriented facility at Kilbirnie serving the schools and clubs of the eastern suburbs, and a world-class indoor facility near the city and transport hub. But I wouldn't hold my breath!

One thing remains unresolved. While the Capital Times article refers to the indoor sports centre as intended "to replace the sports facilities in Shed One and Six on the waterfront", I don't think that's ever been the plan, as neither Kilbirnie nor the northern end of Harbour Quays are convenient for inner-city lunchtime sport. I've made at least two suggestions for alternative indoor sports facilities near the CBD, but perhaps if we do end up with a high-quality multi-use events centre at Harbour Quays, with twice the capacity of the TSB Arena (formerly the Queens Wharf Events Centre), perhaps that contentious old pile could end up being the CBD's recreational centre again?

9 Comments:

At 4:21 PM, July 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the rendering of the proposed sports centre as in the dom post today is terrible. If that is allowed to go ahead it will make Te Papa look like a masterpiece. I think it's time the public is allowed ALL the entries and decide which is the most fitting for the public.

 
At 4:49 PM, July 05, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Entries? I don't think there's been a competition, or even an invited tender: the council just selected a firm to do the design.

The Capital Times article credits the design to Sinclair Knight Merz, a company that I've always thought of as engineers rather than architects. In fact, while their website does list architecture among their services, it's fairly low down their list: "Services include engineering, scientific studies, planning, economics, logistics, architecture, geotechnical engineering, project management and spatial information." The fact that economics is listed ahead of architecture is quite telling, and it shows in the design.

Having said that, it actually looks a bit better than the earlier renders: at least it's got a bit of a curve rather than being a shed with some tacked-on decoration. I've no idea whether this is a developed design or just an initial mockup to say "look, it can fit".

 
At 5:44 PM, July 05, 2007, Anonymous DeepRed said...

WLG's been severely lacking in a mid-size sports/concert stadium for a while now. TSB Arena's too small (5,000 seats), and Westpac Stadium's too big (34,000 seats) for a lot of events that would otherwise be held in the Capital.

 
At 9:28 PM, July 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, it was a competition. There were 4 maybe 5 firms that were asked to do submissions.

In the middle of the competition the council decided it would be at centreport. Now it's been decided otherwise.

Either way, there are 4 other entries that deserve to see the light of day, because the selected entry is not the best scheme.

But it does seem odd that the council has been so quiet about the other options. could it be that their selection had nothing to do with good design, integrating into the neighbourhood, and signifying the creativity of our city (on a path to the airport no less).

I have heard mentioned several times that our council doesn't like fussing about with the"fly by night" operations that are home to wellington. They'd much rather deal with a large corporate entity, than some small local shop. I think this decision demonstrates this attitude perfectly.

 
At 11:42 AM, July 06, 2007, Anonymous erentz said...

Eggscelent. I'm with the "this a win-win" camp.

- A good general indoor sports facility for Wellington that is on the growth spine
- The opportunity for a good indoor stadium down the line
- The opportunity to *fix* Queens Wharf after that

The alternative was a compromised facility on the waterfront that ruined the opportunity for placing a good stadium there.

 
At 3:02 PM, July 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Hmm, thanks for the info anon: I hadn't come across any mention of a competition anywhere. I presume that the renderings in the papers are actually of the "winning" entry? That would seem obvious, but stranger things have happened.

"But it does seem odd that the council has been so quiet about the other options. could it be that their selection had nothing to do with good design, integrating into the neighbourhood, and signifying the creativity of our city"

Given how much the fussing between the sites has focussed on cost, it's clear what the main criterion was.

"I have heard mentioned several times that our council doesn't like fussing about with the"fly by night" operations that are home to wellington. They'd much rather deal with a large corporate entity, than some small local shop."

I haven't come across that myself. Some of the waterfront developments have involved small(ish) local firms, though often in collaboration with bigger companies. I guess there's a good justification for only choosing firms that have a good track record and the capacity to deliver a large project, but it shouldn't be at the expense of variety and creativity. Then again, it seems clear that the expertise sought for this project were engineering and cost control rather than design.

 
At 4:28 PM, July 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would indeed be good to see the other entries for the competition - if SKM's design winner was the cheap option, it would be nice to see what some of the other teams had come up with for wherever they designed the projects for. Perhaps you could ask the Council to display the entries on thier website - or let you display them on yours?

And also it would be interesting to see what SKM have done for the other site as well - if they have 2 different sites, presumably they have 2 different designs as well. So far, we've only seen Kilburnie. What does the port scheme look like?

Yes, it is ridiculous not to have the site near the stadium. Traffic chaos at Kilburnie will ensue without a doubt, not that it will worry the netball mums who will want to drop their little darlings off close to the door. But it is also ridiculous to expect the Port not to try to develop their land in the mean time - so the council will have to pay them to sit still with a dead unused site for the next 10 years.

Seems like a waste of everyone's time and money to me.

 
At 1:46 PM, July 09, 2007, Anonymous AdamNZ said...

Hey Tom heres an article that is in the Dominion post today - http://www.stuff.co.nz/4120937a6483.html

 
At 1:57 PM, July 09, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for the link, Adam. Some of that editorial echoes my comments, but the Dom being the Dom, it inevitably ended up with a call for "hey, let's fix it by building more roads!" - "Now may be the time to put the second road tunnel through Mt Victoria".

 

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