I've had a go at the Q on Taranaki proposals several times before, and while the version currently being submitted for resource consent has been cut back from the original design (I won't call it architecture), it's still a dreadful piece of crap. The changes that have been forced upon the complex have resulted in a pair of buildings that are slightly less overbearing and marginally more articulated, but that still fit very badly into the Te Aro context and, while it's hard to tell too much from these photocopied renders, exhibit virtually nothing in the way of imagination or delicacy.
I have quite a lot of sympathy for the neighbours, who have spoken out publicly against it. After all, I've previously hailed the Croxley Mills building across the road as an excellent example of the sort of apartment development that is not only appropriate for the neighbourhood but positively inspiring. While I can't quite see how Q could be three times taller than the 5-6 storey Croxley Mills (as claimed in the article), and I've always said that city residents shouldn't expect their streets to stay the same forever, it's still clear that these are bad buildings in any context and even worse here. I still can't believe that the developers had the gall to ask for "exemptions to the height limit based on the development's design excellence"!
Where I disagree with the objections is on the subject of apartment size. Guy Marriage is a good friend of mine, and I believe he even reads this blog occasionally, but I don't agree with him that 26-29 square metre apartments are in and of themselves a bad thing. I've been through this argument with many different readers about a nearby proposal involving the same architects, and while there are arguments to be made on both sides, I don't believe that apartment sizes of under 35 or 45 square metres (the suggested minima for studio and one-bedroom units respectively) will automatically result in slums.
What defines a "slum"? Poor health from cramped and badly ventilated conditions? Crime, drugs and social exclusion? Or just the fact that poor people live there? It could indeed be the case that the design of these apartments is indeed substandard in terms of insulation or weathertightness, and that is the sort of thing that could indeed lead to squalid living conditions, but I don't believe that apartment size alone is enough to base that decision on. If you're single, without a lot of possessions and no desire to spend a lot of time at home, then I think that you should be able to spend your money on something other than square metres.
I've also said before that to live comfortably in such a small space requires really good design (multi-functional spaces, clever storage), sensitivity to location, space-saving fixtures, judicious use of light and high-quality shared space and facilities, and I see no reason to believe that this proposal exhibits any of that. A greater mixture of apartment sizes and tenures would be more appropriate than 233 low-end investment units, and even if the 35/45 square metre figures aren't adopted as limits, anything smaller than that should certainly be made to demonstrate that it makes extraordinarily good use of space. On those points, as well as on its risible urbanist and aesthetic qualities, this proposal should indeed be strongly challenged