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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kumutoto Option C

Option C consists of one continuous structure, the one that in earlier posts became known as "the conniptions building". This rendering should make the reason clear: if Waterfront Watchers lament four-storey "high rises" elsewhere on the waterfront, what will they make of this 18-storey "A Tower"?

Kumutoto competition - Option C - A towerInstead of leaving the Whitmore St viewshaft completely open, it sets out to create a frame for it. Instead of building on all three sites, it leaves site 8 as a lawn and creates continuous, elongated buildings on sites 9 and 10 that rear up and join together like amorous serpents. The result is a megastructure, complete with elevated viewing deck, conference centre and galleria, that sets out to break down the distinctions between public and private; landscape and building.

Kumutoto competition - Option C - masterplanThe chances of this being selected are vanishingly small: it departs from the framework and brief so radically that even if it were appropriate for the site (and even I have my doubts), opponents of waterfront development would be right to question the process. I think it's an exciting concept, but it would be so structurally and politically difficult that it would be hard to see anyone fighting for it. It's also not a completely resolved design: the swoops from ground into tower are grand and graceful, but the tower terminates so abruptly that the soaring momentum is lost. A better expression of the upwards sweep could conceivably have created a much more compelling design, one that might have justified breaking all the rules in order to get built. As it is, I don't think it's worth it.

Nevertheless, this is one of the most thoroughly thought-through entries of the lot. It's hard to tell from the posters, but a lot of analysis has gone into the design: city grid, sea wall, tacking lines, view lines and all sorts of considerations of city-wide planning have fed into the concepts behind this scheme. It explicitly addresses the problem of the specified plots being too small to generate a sense of urban continuity, and encourages further connections to the capital precinct. More of this sort of thoughtfulness and daring would be most welcome in other parts of the city (Harbour Quays, for example), and while I don't think it will work here, I admire it for its provocation.


At 8:51 pm, October 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So far it seems like none of these designs could realistally be built. One of the problems with these competitions is that so often the vast majority of the entries have no hope of actually being realised due to costs or politics. As much as i like seeing innovative architecture i wish some of these designers would show some restraint so the public can choose from multiple realistic proposals rather than just two or three. Surely the designers of this giant A building must have known full well it would never get built but they let egos get in the way.

At 9:01 pm, October 31, 2007, Blogger David said...

I like this one. It has the potential to be a recognisable "landmark" building. At the moment, the Beehive sort of defines Wellington. And it would be nice to replace it with something a bit cool, rather than a bit of 1970s East Germany full of cabinet ministers.

At 10:13 am, November 01, 2007, Blogger ted said...

What a great design! It looks just like the new logo for Auckland City. refer to: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=250&objectid=10472657

At 11:01 am, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think it is a great design, you may want to thank the Danish designers that came up with the concept. http://www.big.dk/ (click on the red square with the familiar looking symbol and the word "REN" beneath it.)

Not only would this entry be challenged by WW, it brings up contentious intellectual property issues. I do not think the Danes would be so appreciative of this particular form of "flattery", especially when the interesting details have been replaced with poor design.

At 1:03 pm, November 01, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Anon 1: I think option A is fairly achievable, and some of the ones to come are quite practical as well. Remember that this is a concept competition, and that one of the more outlandish ones might end up informing some aspects of the final designs, even if it's not chosen per se.

Anon2: yes, that is very similar. Nevertheless it's a very broad design concept, and if architects could be sued for copying others' ideas, then the estate of Mies van der Rohe would be very rich by now!

At 1:05 am, November 02, 2007, Blogger Roberto Arsuffi said...

I like this A shaped building. It would be a real landmark. Great.

At 3:47 pm, November 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Architects design to the brief. If the brief was: be Mild and Realistic, then you would have mild and tame schemes.

But, as far as i understand, the Brief was more like: Go for it!


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