WellUrban

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

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

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:

Proposal for indoor sports facilities at Kumutoto Site 10The 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.
If you agree, you have until Friday to let the council know.

9 Comments:

At 4:11 pm, August 08, 2007, Anonymous m-d said...

Nice suggestion Tom, especially with Kilbirnie being chosen as the site for the indoor stadium rather than the railway land...

I'll put this to the ARCH Centre committee meeting tonight, which will be considering the Waterfront Plan...

 
At 4:12 pm, August 08, 2007, Anonymous m-d said...

Rather, tomorrow night...

 
At 5:52 pm, August 08, 2007, Anonymous maximus said...

one other suggestion of course, would be to use the Events Centre (or, TSB Bank Bank Bank Arena) as a place for indoor sports. Its empty most of the time, or occasionally filled with spotty sci-fi nerds (Armageddon) or aging slappers (WOW). It just needs a change of running policy so they don't charge like a wounded bull...

 
At 9:43 pm, August 08, 2007, Anonymous stuart gardyne said...

good idea but only if the courts are visible from both Waterloo Quay footpath and the waterfront promenade. Therefore the courts should have glazed side walls to allow passerby to see in.

If the side walls are solid or opaque, there would be no benefit to the city.

The Rec Centre on Symonds Street at Auckalnd University is a good example of a visible sports court.

 
At 11:21 pm, August 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maximus, the issue with the Events Centre is not the $$, it's the events that take place - WOW takes the Events Centre and Shed 6 out for 3 months at a time...strange really, given that the lottery grant used to fund the Events Centre was made on the basis of some 200,000 active sports users each year...awesome idea, Tom!

 
At 8:54 am, August 09, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Stuart: "good idea but only if the courts are visible from both Waterloo Quay footpath and the waterfront promenade. Therefore the courts should have glazed side walls to allow passerby to see in."

Absolutely: that's one of my key points. There should be lots of ways to do this creatively and attractively.

Anon: "Maximus, the issue with the Events Centre is not the $$, it's the events that take place"

I think that's right. It used to be used for casual and league sports, but the other events have increased to the point where the events and preparation time make that impossible. If the council ever does build a new sports/concert centre at Harbour Quays (as some have suggested) the it would make sense to return the TSB Arena to indoors sports use. But that's all still very distant speculation, and until then we'll have to look for other alternatives.

 
At 5:41 pm, August 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if you've seen this, but it talks about some model urban enhancements from around the globe. A glass-walled sports centre on the waterfront wouldn't look out of place ... http://www.monocle.com/sections/design/63/City-Slickers/

BTW, Telecom is apparently building a new purpose built HQ to house all of it's thousands of Wellington employees in one spot (the same is happening in Auckland). There can't be too many sites big enough, but word on the street it could be that block underway opposite the railway station on Featherston.

One more thing, why is almost every new building built in Wellington green?

 
At 11:10 am, August 13, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Anon: that link didn't work (maybe it was a temporary link, or perhaps Monocle doesn't like deep linking), but I remember seeing a Flash movie there about urban enhancements. Certainly, there are some good examples around the world of sports centres and even huge convention centres that work well in waterfront or urban environments because the designers have avoided the "tin shed" approach.

"BTW, Telecom is apparently building a new purpose built HQ to house all of it's thousands of Wellington employees in one spot"

I'm not sure about the Featherston St site: the last rumour I came across suggested it would be the IRD, but that no-one's confirming anything and the developer is apparently going ahead without a confirmed anchor tenant. Site 10 could be the one, though even with that large floorplate I don't know if it will be big enough. Maybe somewhere at Harbour Quays?

"One more thing, why is almost every new building built in Wellington green?"

I'm not sure: maybe there's something about the iron content in the glass that has good insulation or emissivity properties, but it may just be fashion. So far, I think it looks really good, and it seems to work well on the waterfront. I was around by Shed 1 on a fine day recently, and it was striking how similar the facade colour of the Meridian building was to the water. It could be at the point where it's becoming really predictable and boring, but it's certainly better than the dull sludge-brown that many other new and refurbished buildings (especially in Te Aro) are being painted.

 
At 6:35 pm, August 14, 2007, Blogger Zephyr Rovers FC said...

Zephyr Rovers Maagement think it is crazy to have no indoor sports on the wharf - so fully support this idea. We don't care what they build at Cobham as we'll never go there.

 

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