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

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bring out the Freak!

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Mr Freak (or David Roil to his mother) is the driving force behind Freak Productions (link may not be worksafe, but only if you work for United Future). Freak Productions have been responsible for some eye-opening (and occasionally eye-watering) performances at various cabaret and burlesque events, as well as the award-winning float at this year's Cuba St Carnival.

Their fashion creations are now on show at Hunters & Collectors in Cuba St, with a window display that lives up to that shop's usual inventive standard. Some would describe their style as "menswear with a twist", but that doesn't even vaguely capture it (they make Hank's most outrageous outfits look like a sensible Hugo Boss suit in comparison).

In any case, Freak's clothing line adds a contemporary flavour to Hunters & Collectors' fascinating selection of vintage and retro pieces. H&C have just moved along Cuba St to number 134 (next to Krazy Lounge), following the northward diaspora triggered by demolition in upper Cuba St. So far, most of the shops driven out by the 'bypass' and recent demolition for The Wellington hotel/apartment development seem to have found alternative locations, but if the developers' promises of "improvements" (code for "capital gains") come true, then independent and truly creative enterprises like this might be in trouble.


At 9:50 am, September 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Hotel Wellington development is hilarious! They don't even mention if the apartments & maisonettes will have central heating, so I assume in true Kiwi style people will be cluttering up their expensive new homes with crumy oil filled radiators. They also blather on about 'high quality' fittings and fixtures. If I was considering buying a place like that, I want to see brand names being bandied about, like Hansgrohe, Bosch or F&P.

At 9:51 am, September 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or even 'crummy' oil-filled radiators. When are developers here going to get a clue over insulation and reducing energy consumption?

At 9:56 am, September 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good blog, by the way. First sign I've seen since being in NZ that some people give a damn about the quality of their urban environment. Good luck with endeavours to bring (more) life to the waterfront especially. Getting rid of a six lane highway would be a good start.

At 10:59 am, September 02, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for the compliment. I hope that the 6 lanes go down to 4, as they claim, though I'm doubtful that the 'bypass' will create any significant traffic reduction on the quays.

My main beef with the Hotel Wellington is the gentrification issue. It's possible to redevelop without driving out quirky independent businesses (the Left Bank is a good example), but Rex is quite clear about wanting to "improve" upper Cuba St. Other than that, it's a fairly unimaginative design and the taller towers should have been set back a bit further from the St.

I'm not sure about central heating: if it's there, people tend to use it. I've got a little oil heater in my apartment, band I've only used it about a dozen times this winter. Floor-to-ceiling windows give plenty of solar gain, and while it's of lightweight construction, the fact that there are apartments on 4 out of 6 sides means there's little heat loss.

But you are right: we need to get nmore serious about energy-conscious design.

At 3:08 pm, September 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again.

I doubt that the bypass will reduce traffic down the quays either. But reducing capacity there might actually help to divert it elsewhere and/or put people off using their cars (faint hope here, I know).

I agree about the gentrification tension, and have experienced this where I lived in London, where, after decades of decline, residents of council housing were faced with being shunted out of the area so the local authority could cash in on rising land values once the regneration kicked off.

Nothing wrong with using central heating if it's there! I'm not a believer in this mentality of 'rugging up' when in my own home. How you generate the energy for that heating is another matter. Perhaps some micro-generation through windmills would be appropriate in Wundy Welly?

A lack of heating may be less of a problem in apartments which are bounded on several sides by other dwellings (not that I'd want to live like that though), but the problem in NZ is that most people don't live in apartments like this..

It is a shame that the need to improve building standards and reduce energy consumption has not really figured during the bribe-fest that this general election has turned into. One would have thought that after the leaky buildings scandal more attention would have been given to this.

BTW, I'm curious as to where you work - it isn't in your profile, and it's apparent it isn't for WCC either. Can you say, or do I need to rely on Wellington village gossip to find out?

At 5:51 pm, September 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

Article about the effects of gentrification on a community here in today's Society Guardian from the UK:

At 8:53 am, September 15, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Gentrification is a complex issue, and I think that the issue in places like Hoxton is different from that in Te Aro.

In places like the East End, it's working class families and council flat residents who are being driven out by the artists and their hangers on. In Te Aro, there haven't been many working class residents for a generation or so, so it's the artists and anarchist kids who are being displaced by demolition and rent rises. We seem to have skipped a step.

Loss of affordable homes and studios for artists, musicians etc is certainly an issue, and Wellington has to address it if we're to lose our creative people to Newtown, the Hutt Valley or Wanganui. But more significant social damage could occur if council housing a bit further south (Nairn St, Arlington, Hansen St and Berhampore) is sold off or allowed to run down. That's closer to the Hoxton issue.


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