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

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Big Competition

aBc competition logoFor those of you who love architectural and urban design competitions, here's a biggie. In the run-up to IntensCITY Week next month, everyone's invited to enter aBc -Connection Through the City, an "ideas competition" that tackles what should be the next big issue for Wellington: movement, infrastructure and urban environment from the Airport via the Basin Reserve to the City.

Among other things, this will give some context to all the issues facing Mt Cook, but it has a much broader scope. Here are a couple of quick quotes from the brief (available as a 136kB A4 flyer or higher-res 2.8MB A1 poster):

The brief asks you to assess the movements, associated infrastructure and urban environment between Wellington Airport and City [THE LINK]; and a site specific consideration of the Basin Reserve, where movement and public space are often in conflict [THE HINGE]. It asks how a design-led solution can resolve a number of issues that face this critical piece of infrastructure – the hinge that connects the city.

Five factors that will inform your ideas and designs:
  • Movement between Wellington Airport and the central city
  • Adelaide Road intensification
  • Basin Reserve
  • Government House
  • National War Memorial / Memorial Park
It is expected that you will use your knowledge of Wellington and experience of transport systems to inform your response. Complete schemes and detailed solutions are not expected. However, ideas that show existing and future potential and that challenge current assumptions about how and why we move are encouraged.
Of particular interest to eternal optimists such as myself is this quote: "Project elements likely to be considered as part of the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Study [include] a high quality public transport service on its own dedicated right-of-way. This could take the form of either light rail [my emphasis] or a dedicated busway running from the railway station to Newtown along the existing bus route." Even though this competition is sponsored by the council, I'm not so naive to take this as an endorsement by the current council of light rail as an option for the much-delayed Ngauranga to Airport Study. Nevertheless, it's a great opportunity to push for creative and forward-looking transport solutions that also look at the broader picture of urban form, public space, heritage and urban experience.

aBc competition - area of interestIf you're interested, you'll have to register by Friday the 7th of September and have your entry in by the 24th. It should consist of two A1 pages, plus a written explanation of up to 250 words, and you'll get to see your entry exhibited in the foyer of the State Insurance Building (a much underrated public space) as part of the IntensCITY events. Given my previous posts on these topics, you won't be surprised to know that my mind's already ticking over!


At 1:37 PM, August 24, 2007, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

Your post (not including the quote) was over 300 words, yet you are supposed to explain a city-wide infrastructure and transport plan in only 250?

To quote The Castle:
"Tell 'im he's dreaming."

So in your opinion, are you allowed words etc describing what is actually going on at points of interest on the two A1's PLUS the 250 words?
It sounds a bit ridiculous otherwise.

And when is Phase 2 of the public consultation? On the phase 1 report, it said 24th of August (ooooh, spooky coincidence) - 20 September 2006(!).

Very much delayed indeed!

Any burning cars in your entry this time Tom? ;-)

At 1:49 PM, August 24, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"you are supposed to explain a city-wide infrastructure and transport plan in only 250?"

Sorry, I should have been clearer when paraphrasing the brief. An entry should consist of two parts:

"1. The submission: plans, diagrams, sketches, musings and manifestos that fit on no more than two single sided A1.
2. Written explanation: entries must be accompanied by a written explanation for the proposal. This explanation must be no more than
250 words in length."

So you're free to put as much text as you want into the submission itself, and the explanation is extra.

"Very much delayed indeed!"

I know! Once could be forgiven for feeling a little cynical.

"Any burning cars in your entry this time Tom? ;-)"

We'll see!

At 11:40 PM, August 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Adelaide Road really have a higher frequency of public transport than any other road in Wellington?

I'll be having a good long look at this :)

At 12:32 PM, August 25, 2007, Blogger Erentz said...

I can't see how it can have more public transport on it than say Lambton Quay which carries pretty much every bus route. But Adelaide Road does carry 6 or 7 busy routes. Maybe more than any other "Road" excluding "Quays" and "Streets". :)

At 1:36 PM, August 25, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, it doesn't quite make sense as written: "It has the highest frequency of public transport than any other in Wellington." I suspect a typo of some kind, and I presume that they mean that it has the greatest frequency outside of the Golden Mile or CBD.

At 10:48 PM, August 26, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

Tom, I was surprised to read that Transit would be involved in a light rail scheme. The only way this can legally happen is if the light rail is built within the legal right of way of a designated State Highway. That would have to be taken into account in your design proposal.
There does seem to be quite a bit of confusion over the roles of the various transport agencies.
OnTrack was formerly the railways department.
Transit was originally the Main Highways Board (1924-1953). The MHB was the controlling authority for Main Highways, which were renamed State Highways in 1936.
It recieved all the revenue from registration fees and the petrol tax.
In 1954 the MHB was replaced by the National Roads Board. The NRB remained in control of State Highways and gained the responsibility of subsidising road works on local roads.
In 1972 the Urban Passenger Transport Council was created to subsidise PT with funds from the Crown.
The NRB and UPTC were merged in 1989 to create Transit. In 1996 Transfund was split off from Transit, leaving Transit with the same functions as the original MHB.
Transfund was recently merged with the LTSA to become Land Transport NZ. This is the organisation that now receives the revenue from road users that originally went to the MHB.
It is this history of different agencies and funding streams that it is at the heart of the historic imbalance in funding between the various transport modes. In essence users of each mode got what they were willing to pay for.
The fact that almost all of LTNZs money comes from dedicated roading revenue means there is still a moral imperitive to spend most of the money on roads, that being the reason the fees were levied in the first place.

Your suggestions for ABC seem to be pretty much a revival of the original Wellington Master Transport Plan. That has never been completed because, while the NRB received enough money from motorists to pay for part of it's commitments, the Railways Dept. was denied funding by the government to extend the railway through or under the CBD. Not wanting to sound facetious, but you could just get a copy of that plan and submit it substituting light rail for heavy rail. In fact I'm sure there was a review of the plan in the late 60s that recommended light rail as an affordable alternative but that didn't proceed for the same reason there is only one terrace tunnel, the economic turmoil of the '70s.

At 9:17 AM, August 27, 2007, Blogger Maramatanga said...

I wonder if Dick Hubbard's recent proposal for light rail up Queen St might increase willingness to consider the same in Wellington. Serious plans in Auckland would make it harder to dismiss light rail as an unworkable, unrealistic dream. (Of course, if Hubbard loses the election to Banks, Auckland's plan might evaporate).

At 3:09 PM, August 27, 2007, Blogger mike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:05 PM, August 27, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Kevyn: "I was surprised to read that Transit would be involved in a light rail scheme. The only way this can legally happen is if the light rail is built within the legal right of way of a designated State Highway"

I didn't say that Transit was involved. I wrote last year that while Transit's regional manner was quoted off-the-cuff saying "We anticipate some sort of rail [link] will come out of consultation", there was no official mention of it as an option. I don't really care about the roles of different agencies in this, and I doubt that most of the entrants would either. It's about seeking the best outcome for Wellington, regardless of the currently regulatory, legislative of funding structures.

At 4:08 PM, August 27, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Maramatanga: I'd like to think that it's a serious option in Auckland, though it seems there's a lot of cynicism about that particular proposal being politically motivated as a short-term stunt. It'll be interesting to see how Adelaide's current CBD light rail extension goes, seeing as that seems to be much less expensive than the over-inflated estimates that have been used to dismiss light rail here.

At 1:54 AM, August 29, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

Tom, You really should care about the roles of the different agencies simply because they will be the ones you will be lobbying for funding if your scheme or a similar one is adopted. And as Transit and LTNZ are national organisations you are going to have to convince them (and the rest of New Zealand) that what is best for Wellington is best for New Zealand. Not to mention providing a good argument to treat this proposal differently from the Christchurch tramway, which received no LTNZ funding, although that tramway does seem to have been promoted as a tourist attraction first and a CBD people mover second.

I'm glad you chose to quote that part of my comment because it will have a major impact on at least part of the route for any light rail proposal. If land needs to be taken it could be easier if it is taken as part of a State Highway alignment.

Sorry for misrepresenting or misreading the original comment. I did get the impression it was a reply to a question rather than a quote from a press release but you can never be sure with official comments. Unfortunately there is a world of difference between "look at" and actually doing something.

At 8:56 AM, August 29, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Kevyn: "Tom, You really should care about the roles of the different agencies simply because they will be the ones you will be lobbying for funding if your scheme or a similar one is adopted."

On one level I do, and if it gets to a point where such things are being seriously proposed, then of course lobbying and funding comes into it. But this is an "ideas competition", rather than a call for fully-worked practical solutions, so I think the emphasis should be on opening up our thinking on these issues beyond the constraints of conventional thinking, let alone the contingencies of current politics and legislation.

I may do what I'd planned to do for the Buckle St competition: one practical, achievable scheme and one that's whimsical, rhetorical or political.

At 4:10 AM, August 31, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

Point taken.

I suggest using a roller coaster instead of conventional light rail. For the practical reason that it can be elevated without shading the ground. For the whimsical reason that it can go over Mount Vic and use gravity to zoom it all the way to the airport or the CBD. Probably wouldn't want to have dining car though ;-)

At 8:46 AM, August 31, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Go for it! Given the emphasis in car advertising and the motoring press on driving as entertainment ("zoom zoom" indeed), perhaps a scheme that conflates public transport with fairground rides is overdue :-)

At 12:28 PM, September 06, 2007, Blogger Erentz said...

From the entry form: "Deadline for submissions is 4pm Friday 24 September 2007"

So ahh... am I crazy cuz my calendar doesn't have a Friday 24th of September?

Must be Monday cuz the website just says "24 September" (no "Friday") but better check with the organisers.

At 1:59 PM, September 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Well spotted! I've just double-checked, and they say that yes, it's Monday the 24th.

At 2:15 PM, September 06, 2007, Anonymous Simon said...

no ones crazy except perhaps myself for not picking up that error….

the deadline is certainly
Monday the 24th

All the best

Simon Bush-King
[IntensCITY Week organiser]


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