A sporting site
Submissions on the Draft Waterfront Development Plan close on Friday, and while my opinion on most of it is just "get on with it", there's one area where I'll be promoting a specific change. While the ground floors of Sites 8, 9 and 10 have been designated simply as "retail", I think that Site 10 should be explicitly set aside as an indoor sports facility to replace Sheds 1 and 6. I first suggested this about six months ago, and the Save Our Sport lobby group is now pushing for the same solution, so this seems like a good chance to try to get the concept formally adopted by the council and Wellington Waterfront Ltd.
Ralph from Save Our Sport asked me to come up with a rough layout to see if it might work within the proposed footprint for Site 10. I think that it is possible to fit three 27m x 15m courts (slightly smaller than the current courts, but acceptable) into a 5m-high ground floor, and still have just enough room for all the services required for access to the office floors above, plus some basic amenities and even a small café. Here's a very rough render, looking from the south:
The three courts are placed hard up against the walls on two sides, as at Shed 1, and are separated by nets. There's a 2m-wide access way along the right hand side, which still leaves room for stair- or lift-wells to the office floors and "pods" containing toilets, showers, changing facilities or vending machines. This leaves a space at the south that's nearly 10m deep: this would allow plenty of space for a lobby providing access to the upper floors, and while some of the remaining space could be used to make the courts slightly longer, I'd suggest a different use. A mezzanine floor provides office space for the sports centre administration, while the ground floor could be a casual café and shop that would not only be a useful facility for the users of the courts, but could also provide an active edge when the courts aren't in use. It's not an absolute necessity, and it could be sacrificed if I've missed out any services or access requirements for the offices. What should be essential, though, is that the walls should be transparent wherever possible, providing natural light while avoiding the blank edges that make Shed 1 so unattractive at the moment.
Site 10 makes sense for so many reasons:
- it's nearly as convenient as Shed 1, and in fact it should be closer for a lot of CBD workers;
- combining indoor sports with offices above is an efficient use of space;
- it's close to the city's main transport hub;
- there are few (if any) other sites in the CBD with sufficient space;
- the location is likely to be the least attractive part of Kumutoto for retailers, so there's less opportunity cost in giving up the space;
- it will bring activity to an area that would otherwise struggle to attract visitors;
- other uses could be found for the courts outside of scheduled games (early morning gym sessions, Sunday markets, evening functions);
- it would complement the retail, office, residential, cultural and open space uses planned for the rest of Kumutoto, making it truly a mixed-use precinct.