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

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

An urban vision

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Saturday's Dominion Post magazine carried the alarming headline "Wellington's Future Shock". It turns out to be an article about the Wellington Regional Strategy (which I wrote about earlier), and although it kicked things off with a sensationalist sidebar outlining a scenario for the year 2020 consisting of stagnation and decline, the article was mostly about how the WRS Forum is planning to avoid such a fate.

It was more about economic development than urban design, and the various CEOs and chairmen who were asked for their solutions generally gave very high-level (a euphemism for "waffly") answers full of words like "vision", "excellence", "productivity" and "innovation". But at the end of the article, the DomPost called for readers' visions for Wellington. Of course I couldn't resist, so despite the difficulty of expressing a vision for the future city in just 150 words, I wrote this and sent it off:
My vision for Wellington takes the qualities that distinguish it from other New Zealand cities, and realises the full potential of those qualities.

We are educated, creative and diverse. We need more than lip service to these values: we need the right conditions, including affordable accommodation for students, artists and immigrants.

We have the beginnings of a good public transport system. We must invest in this to make it reliable, affordable, frequent and pleasant enough to get people out of their cars.

We have a compact, lively centre. We need to curb sprawl and realise that higher densities are not only more sustainable but more enjoyable than suburbia. The CBD will stretch from Kaiwharawhara to Newtown, mixing workplaces, homes, education and entertainment, and urban design will encourage architectural diversity within a coherent streetscape.

Wellington is a really good little city, but it can become a truly great world-class city.
They're accepting letters until midday tomorrow (the 14th). Since you're reading this blog, I know you must have your own vision for how Wellington should look in the future (you can't all be looking for toyboys!), so dash off some insightful words and send them to vision@dompost.co.nz (up to 150 words, with name, address and contact details).


At 1:50 pm, September 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

Not responded to this challenge, but thought you might be interested in these two books from UK thinktank, Demos:





At 1:54 pm, September 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops, forgot I could make links:


At 1:57 pm, September 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I give up. They showed up correctly when I previewed the post... Sorry.

At 2:36 pm, September 15, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for the links, Andrew (yes they did work - sort of!).

I read The Creative City some years ago, and it was one of the books that sparked my interest in urbanism and urban design. It seems to be a much more inclusive vision than Richard Florida's "Createive Class", which (though I haven't read his books in full) seems to degenerate into a euphemism for "white collar".


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