Building rumours 17: towers of the imagination
Regular readers will know that we haven't exactly been kind to ArcHaus around here, but here's a surprising find: a project on their website that exhibits more than a little grace, drama, complexity and invention.
I get the feeling, though, that this project will go no further. Unlike their other featured projects, this is just labelled "Inner City Residential Concept", and bears all the hallmarks of a "what if" scenario rather than a serious development proposal. It is described thus:
This concept design was a reaction to a tight Wellington inner city corner site. Using the space and the movement inherent in the site the concept was produced of a building that unrolls as the views progress. The curving form was designed to respond to the surrounding more sensitive environment by never turning a blank wall to its surroundings, the delicate curves allowing the building to unfold, even on the site boundaries. The height of the building was based upon use of the discretionary limits to allow the massing which would reflect a building that evolves from the rear towards the front of the site.Does anyone know whether this might indeed be going ahead, and if so, where it would be? I've tried to work out from the context where this might be, and thought first of all of the old Il Casino site, but it doesn't quite fit.
I'm not completely won over by this design: the shimmering whiteness may just be the product of a simplified rendering, but it all looks a bit more Gold Coast than Wellington. While the separate treatment of tower and base is a good approach to combining sculptural gestures with the more down-to-earth requirements of street-edge urbanism, the latter seems undeveloped and the juxtaposition is a little too arbitrary. I'd also like to know more about "the surrounding more sensitive environment" before deciding how appropriate its 18-storey scale might be.
But otherwise: wow! This an energetic and even gleeful design, showing modulations in all three dimensions and positively revelling in its verticality. One can almost imagine the downtrodden architects at ArcHaus, traumatised after having to grind out yet another envelope-filling, minimum-spec lump, letting all their creative impulses burst free from the oppression of cynical volume-maximising instructions from developers, and remembering that their CAD software does have a curve function after all. The result is exhilarating, and perhaps even a little overwrought, though some subtle variations in materials could temper the spatial exuberance with some elegance and finesse and produce something really special.
With my earlier provisos in mind, this could be a rare example of "discretionary limits" freeing up the architectural imagination rather than being used purely as a loophole to get more dosh out of the site. It's just a pity that this, of all the ArcHaus projects currently proposed, seems the least likely to go ahead.