WellUrban

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wharf Plaza


The public spaces at Kumutoto are gradually being reopened after their revamp. This week the area between the Steamship Wharf and Meridian Energy buildings, which according to Wellington Waterfront Ltd is to be called "Wharf Plaza", is having the last finishing touches applied. While the "spring" weather may not exactly be conducive to lingering outside, the green lights under the new benches look especially good at dusk.

Benches and lights at the newly-opened Wharf PlazaThe heritage gates have been reinstalled at the much more inviting intersection with Customhouse Quay, with new shelters integrated into the gate design. That will make waiting to cross a little bit easier, but it will really require something more drastic (such as removing lanes, or at the very least adjusting the crossing phasing in favour of pedestrians) to make the flow down Johnston St to this plaza as seamless as possible.

The construction is steaming ahead for the main public space, Kumutoto Plaza, but while much of that is expected to be accessible in time for Meridian to move into the building at the middle of next month, some of the work will still be going on until December. There's no confirmed date for the opening of the ground floor tenancies, but I've heard from two different sources now that the western, wooden-slatted portion of the building will become a branch of Mojo. I know, another one. But it will certainly be good to have some better options for coffee and informal lunches in this part of town, and with any luck it'll be one of those branches that opens in the evenings as well, doing just that little bit more to bring some life back to what was once, not all that long ago, a barren car park.

2 Comments:

At 10:33 AM, September 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The names Wharf Plaza, Brandon Plaza and Kumutoto Plaza are only working names at the moment ("Kerry Prendergast Plaza" anyone? No, didn't think so). There are other rumours about some great businesses opening on the waterfront that I've heard but I won't share because I'm not a gossip and it might jinx them.

 
At 11:33 AM, September 27, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"The names Wharf Plaza, Brandon Plaza and Kumutoto Plaza are only working names at the moment"

I wondered about that: they're on all the masterplans and the WWL site, but I'd be happy if someone came up with better names. I nearly went and put them on the new ZoomIn maps!

There have been other names bandied around, including (I think) "Synergy Plaza" for Brandon Plaza. That would have been terrible: public spaces shouldn't have corporate naming rights, and they'd have had to change it to "Fronde Plaza" anyway! I quite liked an earlier description of Wharf Plaza as "Johnston St Extension", as it help reinforce the idea of Kumutoto as an extension of the city grid.

By the way, I wish there were a better term than "plaza". We're not Italian! For a small urban space that's not a park, the best Anglo-Saxon term would probably be "square", but that gets a bit dull. I'm not sure we could adopt any Maori terms, since I don't think there was an equivalent concept for such a space in kainga, and calling it an atea would be stretching things too much, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

"There are other rumours about some great businesses opening on the waterfront that I've heard but I won't share because I'm not a gossip and it might jinx them."

Spoilsport! But fair enough, though: if leaking such info before the deals are signed would put them at risk, I don't want to do so.

Incidentally, there are a couple of local businesses that are looking to expand, and that I'd love to see at Kumutoto: Ka Pai and Simply Paris. Either of those would be a great complement to the public spaces: munching on a puku or a merguez baguette down by the mouth of Kumutoto stream on a summer's lunchtime would be wonderful.

 

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