WellUrban

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

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bizarro world


The Greater Wellington Regional Council's inaugural Environmental Awards have just been announced. And among the winners, one stands out: the inner-city bypass project team. WTF?!

Granted, they won the very specific Nikau Compliance Award for "consent holders who are using innovative approaches to proactively exceed their compliance requirements to reduce or avoid adverse effects on the environment", and apparently they won "for their innovative measures taken to deal with groundwater and the treatment of stormwater". That's all very well, and I've got nothing against innovative water management, but this is a stunning example of not seeing the wood for the trees. Giving an environmental award to a project that poured millions of dollars and a huge amount of embedded energy into razing a neighbourhood and encouraging private car use just seems like a laughable exercise in greenwashing.

9 Comments:

At 4:59 PM, November 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, as a daily user, I can confirm the bypass could not win any performance or success awards for given it has failed to improve traffic flow or congestion.

It could not win any awards for friendliness or community given it has successfully divided the CBD living space.

As it's lack of effectiveness was because it was watered down to meet Environment Court requirements, IMO, it seems wholly appropriate that it get an environmental award !

 
At 8:18 AM, November 09, 2007, Blogger llew said...

An outrage!

 
At 10:48 AM, November 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the award is not for the bypass as a concept - they're not saying "the bypass is great for the environment!" The award is instead for the people who, when someone else decided that a bypass should be built, did the best job they could to minimise the resulting environmental problems. After all, it's not the fault of the designers that the bypass was built - they just design what they're told to design. And if they manage to fulfill their silly orders in a way that minimises the silliness, why not recognise that?

 
At 11:05 AM, November 09, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Anon2: I acknowledge that, and said that in my post. But it comes across very strangely, and could indeed be read as an environmental endorsement of the project as a whole. We should watch carefully in the future to make sure that some bypass proponents don't trumpet this award and take it out of context.

 
At 11:54 AM, November 09, 2007, Blogger Jeremy said...

right on !!

 
At 1:47 PM, November 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I was more replying to the other comments than to your post. Should have been clearer.

 
At 2:06 AM, November 10, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

The bypass is a classic example of design by committee or, more accurately, design by democracy.

The original motorway design would at least have reduced vehicle emmissions, due to proper grade seperation, provided induced traffic was less then 50%. The compromise that was finally built 40 years later provides bugger all emmissions reductions. But then, since the design was so badly compromised, it provides bugger all benefit to the people who payed for it so they are hardly likely to be induced to use it more than they used the original one-way streets.

 
At 8:47 AM, November 12, 2007, Anonymous maximus concretus said...

the bypass has also won awards from the Concrete Association or some such thing, with, (and i paraphrase from memory), "clever use of design in the wall relief panels at the side"....

...What the ...? Do they mean the plain panels with standard vertical ribbing on them, as has been done on every Brutalist building since the 60s? In this case, done without the bush hammering that gives it a smidgeon of interest. Methinks, if they were being honest, that the award for concrete is just because they used so damn much of it, and that has increased the yearly profit of the concrete companies concerned.....

 
At 5:17 PM, November 13, 2007, Blogger Erentz said...

In some of the motorway improvments of the CMJ and Grafton Gully areas in Auckland they've used actual designs in the reliefs on the barriers and such. It looks quite nice.

Why more effort doesn't go into making such structures interesting in general is beyond me.

 

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