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

Friday, September 23, 2005

We've been Wallpapered!

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Well, it had to happen. Lifestyle magazine Wallpaper*, which usually attracts epithets such as "├╝ber-chic" or "painfully hip", has done a feature on Wellington. The photo-essay is not quite what you'd expect, though: no Gucci-draped waiflets making ironically bored moues in front of fetishised Modernist buildings. Which is a pity, since the Hannah Playhouse or PSIS House could look bleakly glamorous with the best of them, given stark enough lighting and a dramatic camera angle.

Instead, the photos are determinedly ordinary, with ordinary Wellingtonians populating the streets or peering suspiciously from behind curtains. Oriental Bay is choppy and windswept; a suburban subdivision spreads along a ridge above scrubby bush and a couple of cabbage trees; Lambton Quay looks half-deserted in a shot that catches the edge of TPK House (aka State Insurance House, of which local photographer mlr has a much more Wallpapery shot).

When it comes to bars and restaurants, the usual suspects (Matterhorn, Good Luck) get a namecheck, but no photos. Shopping fails to excite them, claiming that most of our promising designers leave for Auckland, though Hank gets a mention. Hotels get short shrift (perhaps we really need that Hilton), but overall their writer is pleased that we're still "boho" rather than glam.

Unfortunately, the article is full of errors. Some are just typos ("Freyburg" pool, "Mirimar", "morpork"), but others seem decidedly odd. For instance, there's a shot of old houses in a narrow street, with a view of the Carillon in the background. The caption claims the street to be in Miramar, but I can't think of anywhere near there that could have that view: somewhere between Kelburn and Aro St seems more likely. Or perhaps everywhere in Wellington is part of Miramar now, thanks to PJ? They also somehow think that you're likely to catch Fat Freddy's Drop at Amba, which closed well over a year ago. Some of this might seem like nit-picking, but surely a magazine that celebrates quality, attention to detail and up-to-the minute insider information should know these things. As the phrase has it, what would Tyler Brûlé do?


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