WellUrban

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

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Courtenay Park at last


After much controversy and delay, work on Courtenay Place Park is finally underway. There have been a few changes since the earlier plans, including the addition of lightboxes (to display artwork) along the northern side, and the omission for now of any extension to the old toilet block since Ferg pulled out of the wine bar concept.

Courtenay Place Park - final renderingI've heard that the net loss of car parks will now be only one, down from six in the first concept and three in the interim version, though no doubt there are still some people out there who regard this as an intolerable erosion of their right to park wherever they want. The central paved area should serve as a useful space for performers and street vendors, and when the work is completed in April, with any luck Burger Fuel will be back after their fiery mishap, and perhaps someone will replace Herbal Heaven with something that will make the most of the new public space.

Courtenay Place Park - final plan

36 Comments:

At 1:22 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

On the WCC page you link to, it says:
"...for the project, which is expected to take about three months.
The $1.1 million park will improve the quality of..."


But if you click on the 'Related Links' on that page, it says:
"The budget for construction of the park is $840,000."

I am well aware that major construction budgets do fluctuate up (more often than not) and down. But $260K?! Gadzooks!

 
At 1:26 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Tom said...

On the latter page, it says:

Phase one - the realignment of Taranaki Street and Courtenay Place. This was completed in late 2006.

Phase two - the construction of the park...

So, I guess that the $840k is just for the phase 2 construction of the park itself, and the other $260k has already been spent on realigning the streets. But there may be another explanation.

 
At 1:26 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Hadyn said...

The street performers can get f_cked.

If there was anything from the city that I would love to kick to the suburbs it's them.

F_cking unicylce riding m_therf_ckers

 
At 2:00 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

Right you are Tom.

And Haydn, I agree. Just say NO to crusty jugglers and human statues.

 
At 2:14 pm, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone want to wager how long it will take our local celeb-itinerant
to move in once the Park is compeleted, (Court orders withstanding)

 
At 2:30 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Robyn said...

I reckon the only people who have the right to demand street parking in a big city are the disabled.

If shopkeepers want to live in a 1960s fantasy of shoppers being able to who can park outside the shop doing business, (then driving on to the next one?), then they should relocate to Masterton or somewhere.

I'm a bit dubious about the idea of old underground toilets being converted into a bar. Two had this done in Auckland in the '90s. One is now closed, and the other (off K Road) has become this really dodgy bar that always seems to still be a-pumpin' at 10 o'clock on Sunday mornings.

It might be the underground location that puts it at a disadvantage, or perhaps it's the stigma of being known as "the one in the old dunnies".

But anyway, that intersection is one of the most awkward parts of downtown Wellington, so it's good to see it's slowly being improved.

 
At 2:51 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Tom said...

Robyn: "If shopkeepers want to live in a 1960s fantasy of shoppers being able to who can park outside the shop doing business..."

It was in the 60's (IIRC) that Cuba St business owners petitioned the council to create Cuba Mall, so they were actually more advanced than the current complainers.

"I'm a bit dubious about the idea of old underground toilets being converted into a bar. Two had this done in Auckland in the '90s. One is now closed, and the other (off K Road) has become this really dodgy bar that always seems to still be a-pumpin' at 10 o'clock on Sunday mornings."

Was that the Beresford wine bar? I went there when it first opened, and it was quite nice at the time. The ones here between Kent & Cambridge Tce have changed hands a few times, but the current one (the Welsh bar) seems to be doing okay. Mind you, that's above ground and has quite striking architecture, so the comparison to an underground bar might not apply.

Any other ideas for making the most of the old toilet block would be most welcome!

 
At 2:59 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Greg said...

I'm surprised that the street performers cause so much aggravation here. There are very few around and they rarely perform. After a few years in Christchurch, I came to love the banter between good performers and a good audience. Even though the jokes were the same month after month, there is a lot to be appreciated. I find a lack of street theatre to be a negative point to Wellington. Point me to a good performer and I'll do my best to be a good audience member.

That said, I was happy to see construction working on the park. I was wondering if the whole project was stalled by parking concerns.

 
At 3:44 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger poneke said...

It was in the 60's (IIRC) that Cuba St business owners petitioned the council to create Cuba Mall

Yes, this followed the street being closed for the removal of the tram tracks after the last trams ran in 1964. Business actually increased when cars were banished despite the disruption caused by digging up the streets to remove the tracks (the old Newtown Park route... the buses that replaced them were diverted into Taranaki Street and remain there to this day).

One of my hobby horses is to extend the mall another block south to Vivian Street, which would do wonders for the area. And maybe even another block on. There is no need at all for private cars to be in Cuba St between Vivian and Ghuznee.

 
At 4:00 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Aron said...

One of my hobby horses is to extend the mall another block south to Vivian Street, which would do wonders for the area. And maybe even another block on. There is no need at all for private cars to be in Cuba St between Vivian and Ghuznee.

I feel that Cuba from Ghuznee to Abel Smith is actually complemented by the grittiness of the road, especially since it's not busy. At any rate, I'd fear it becoming too posh if the mall were extended...the difference in atmosphere is palpable when you cross Ghuznee Street, and on the south side it feels more like 'real Cuba' to me. I think both sections have their place...

 
At 4:14 pm, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re uses for the old toilets - a house for Ben Hana?

 
At 4:22 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger Tom said...

I think I'm with Aron on this one. There's a study somewhere (and I'll have to dig up the reference) that says if the traffic on a street is such that one has to wait more than 2 seconds on average to cross it, it's a barrier to the sense of a continuous community. On that stretch of Cuba St, one very rarely has to wait that long, as the traffic is usually either very light or waiting for the lights, and you only have to look in one direction. Perhaps removing some of the carparks from one side would allow for a wider pavement and better street life, but I too like the grunginess of that block, and I think that if anywhere in that vicinity is a priority for conversion from car-space to pedestrian space, it's Swan Lane carpark.

I'd prefer pedestrianisation of the Golden Mile, and maybe closing off one end of some side streets (as at the corner of Grey St and Lambton Quay). Joining Post Office Square up to the pavements by closing the relevant stretches of Customhouse Quay and Grey St might also provide a big improvement in pedestrian usability without removing much road area.

 
At 4:27 pm, January 09, 2008, Blogger poneke said...

I'd prefer pedestrianisation of the Golden Mile

Oh, yes, please. I hadn't thought of anything so bold. What a great idea. As long as a bus lane continues through most of it, until such time as we get trams back.

 
At 3:01 pm, January 10, 2008, Blogger Robyn said...

Was that the Beresford wine bar? I went there when it first opened, and it was quite nice at the time.

Yep, that's the one. I'm not sure why it went downhill, especially because over the years Beresford Street has become quite nice (but not quite nice enough...)

Also, I like the idea of pedestrian malls, but some streets work better with cars - they can add more life and give a sense of security at night.

 
At 3:02 pm, January 10, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like the historic clock on a pole and the cool organicky marble statue that are currently on that site are not present in the new design. It's a shame, I love that clock and the statue is very striking at night. The new park will look a bit bland without them, although the lightboxes are a nice touch.

Also it looks like the trees around that block will be removed- there are a couple of quite big ones that could be moved elsewhere rather than being hacked down hopefully...

IMHO this is another case of the council fixing a non-existent problem (as is the case with the Frank Kitts upgrade!)

 
At 3:15 pm, January 10, 2008, Blogger Tom said...

Anon: it's hard to tell from the version I posted, but on the PDF version of the plan (361kB) you can just make out places where it says "Statue" and "Planter to remain". The planter area shows several trees, which are quite likely to the the original trees, though the rendering seems to have omitted them. There's no mention of the clock, but given that the working name for the park was "Clock Park", I can't imagine the council getting rid of it: I'll ask my spies.

"IMHO this is another case of the council fixing a non-existent problem"

It's not so much about fixing a problem as realising an opportunity: joining an isolated piece of public land to the pavement to create a much more usable public space.

 
At 3:20 pm, January 10, 2008, Blogger poneke said...

given that the working name for the park was "Clock Park", I can't imagine the council getting rid of it

While walking past the clock yesterday (and checking out the reconstruction) I noticed it had stopped. I hope this is not an omen of its removal.

An amusing thing about this clock is that it has been two or three minutes fast for at least the past four years, as reliably fast as clockwork, even after its twice-yearly adjustments for daylight saving. Maybe whoever adjusts it has a watch that is that much fast.

 
At 3:22 pm, January 10, 2008, Blogger Greg said...

Anon: I'd be tempted to think that this does fix a problem. The slip-road was identified as an area of high vehicle/pedestrian accidents. Removing the slip-road takes away the problem and adds the chance for some nice public space on the sunny side of the Courtenay Place.

 
At 3:45 pm, January 10, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's good news about the statue, wonder why it and the clock are not in the artist's impression though?

I can believe the accident rate on that corner being horrendous, people barrel down the slip road at huge speed to avoid the set of lights.

What would be great is some greening of Taranaki Street- Courtenay Place looks great, while Taranaki Street is an abomination- that Briscoes building would easily get my vote for the worst in Wellington...

 
At 8:34 am, January 11, 2008, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

"Maybe whoever adjusts it has a watch that is that much fast."

Or the watch you keep time by is that much slow?
:P

 
At 10:54 am, January 11, 2008, Blogger Tom said...

I'm reliably informed that the clock will indeed be retained, though it's off for some maintenance & repainting before being relocated closer to the toilets. The trees in the planters will also be retained, though some of the others are too large to be relocated so will have to be replaced.

I guess the rendering is just simplified, perhaps over-simplified.

 
At 3:47 pm, January 11, 2008, Blogger Erentz said...

What is actually going to happen to the toilet block? Why not just renovate them and make them actual toilets again?

 
At 4:00 pm, January 11, 2008, Blogger poneke said...

What is actually going to happen to the toilet block? Why not just renovate them and make them actual toilets again?

Eeek, I wouldn't want to see that happen. Underground toilets are grotesquely seedy places, no matter how nice the decor.

I'm reliably informed that the clock will indeed be retained

Going past again today, the clock was working again. The west-facing face was actually showing the right time, but the Mt Vic-facing one was five minutes slow, as usual. Long may this clock run slow, it gives character to the place.

 
At 12:20 pm, January 12, 2008, Blogger Erentz said...

"Eeek, I wouldn't want to see that happen. Underground toilets are grotesquely seedy places, no matter how nice the decor."

Hopefully something goes in there, it looks like a tomb at the moment. Even just a simple outdoor cafe open in the good weather, e.g. Kaffee Eis by the lagoon, or something as small as the Coffee Stop on Victoria St.

 
At 9:52 am, January 14, 2008, Blogger poneke said...

I'm reliably informed that the clock will indeed be retained

Does anyone know how long this clock has been there, and who put it there and why?

I've done a fairly extensive web search but have not found anything, but I presume it has a history.

There aren't many public clocks left now. There used to be lots of them. The ones that are still there are the one on the central fire station, the Courtenay Place Park one we are discussing, one in Mercer St at the Willis St corner, one on the Railway Station. What others?

 
At 11:53 am, January 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Old Government buildings/Law school still has a clock,

Also technically all of the "pay and display" parking meters are clocks, most have the current time as part of the default display, some require being "woken up" by having a button pressed, but they are very handy if you dont have a watch round town.

 
At 12:02 pm, January 14, 2008, Anonymous kit said...

All I request is that the council use something other than the slippery orange paving that has infested the rest of downtown Wellington. A surface that isn't a deathtrap in the wet would be great.

 
At 12:35 pm, January 14, 2008, Blogger Greg said...

Poneke: The problem with the public clocks is that they're hard to rely on. I've used them to gauge my time for bus departures from Courtenay Place. This only led to disappointment and long waits for the next bus to work.

Kit: I thought that the orange cobblestone was meant to be a deterrent for skates/skateboards in the area... Dangerous barely begins to describe my impression towards the wet cobblestone.

 
At 5:58 pm, January 16, 2008, Anonymous maximus said...

Greg, Kit,
my understanding is that the people in the Council who are responsible for paving, hate things like orange cobblestones / bricks. If they had their way, we'd have asphalt on all the footpaths due to its 'non-slip' properties in the wet and the dry.

But other people, such as designers both inside and outside the council, love the different tactile and visual qualities you can get with different bricks and blocks, and are busy specifying them left right and centre.

Hence the ridiculous situation evident in Manners Mall, where the designers - Athfield - have specified concrete bricks in two colours, which were installed at not inconsiderable expense. Where the bricks have worked lose or got a bit wobbly, the council maintenance bods have come along, ripped them up, and stuck down asphalt. Its an appalling eyesore to those of us that care, but seeing as most of the inhabitants are baby goths, i suspect no-one really gives a toss....

...except me ! I care ! and NO ONE is doing anything about it !

 
At 9:10 am, January 17, 2008, Blogger Tom said...

I understand that there will indeed be the same old orangey bricks, but not at the request of the designers. Does anyone remember the strips of pavers laid down in Waring Taylor St next to Midland park? They were a field test of paving options for Courtenay Park, but in the end they were all too expensive for the budget, so we'll get the bricks instead.

 
At 11:34 am, January 17, 2008, Anonymous Kit said...

It's a health hazard damn it!! The bricks are lethal. Maybe it's because I favour leather soled shoes and should just fork out the $50 a pair to get them resoled? There must be a less expensive, visually pleasing alternative to suit all sides. It's funny that the council choses the cheapest option that takes the most maintenance! Costs more in the end.

 
At 11:44 am, January 17, 2008, Blogger Tom said...

I've never had too much of a problem with them, but then again I tend to get my leather soles covered for the sake of my shoes. My main beef from them (at least from a practical if not aesthetic point of view) is that when they get loose and water gets underneath them, they can turn into little booby traps that squirt water up your trousers when you step on them!

 
At 3:47 pm, January 17, 2008, Anonymous maximus said...

Kit,

bricks are not the cheapest - they're a lot more than plain asphalt. But some retailers believe that plain black asphalt is down-market, and demand a more visually 'up-market' look such as bricks. That's why the council is doing corners in brick along Featherston St, due to coersion from proerty owners who were protesting that Lambton Quay got all the flash paving, and all that F St had was asphalt.

And Queen St, in Auckland, has just spent tens of millions doing up their pavements with non-asphalt solutions, to look better.

Final point though: leather soles are good on the dance floor but crap outdoors. Go get the rubber soled sneakers on....

 
At 3:51 pm, January 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the whole "pavers getting loose" is a bit of a nightmare, and It is one of the biggerst problems they have had in the revamped Manners Mall (emos aside)

And I suspect it is mainly cause by the fact that service vehicles do use manners mall alot, I mean mosts mornings there is at least on courier van parked up the western end,

I think they should have actually closed off manners mall with bollards, I mean it is not that far to walk to the middle store from either end

 
At 6:43 am, January 18, 2008, Blogger poneke said...

Does anyone know how long this clock has been there, and who put it there and why?

I managed to find out some information about the Courtenay Place clock from the council, and it was interesting enough to write an article about it, which I've posted on my blog, with links to this article of Tom's.

 
At 8:33 am, January 19, 2008, Anonymous homeperm said...

oh my gosh the stupid orange bricks. it is not just in leather soled shoes that they are dangerous. every work day that it is wet i catch an elevator up to the terrace rather than walk along lambton quay due to the aprox. 20000 times i have nearly slipped to my death. or at least to my injury.

also i love the clock.

 

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