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

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Building tension

In yesterday's DomPost, a Waterfront Watcher from Wadestown (always Wadestown!) wrote to object to the building plans for Waitangi Precinct. He says "Can you imagine Aucklanders accepting large buildings in the Domain or on One Tree Hill? Or Christchurch residents accepting them in Hagley Park? What about New Yorkers in Central Park?"

It thus appears that he's never heard of Auckland War Memorial Museum, Canterbury Museum or the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, all of which are very large buildings in some of the parks he mentions. So, predictably enough, I fired off a quick rant:
Russell Tregonning (Oct 11) claims that Auckland, Christchurch and New York would reject buildings in the Domain, Hagley Park and Central Park. Yet each of those parks already includes a major museum, much larger than the Te Papa extension by the edge of Waitangi Park. Central Park is also surrounded by apartment buildings and has several buildings inside it, including restaurants and gift shops.

The Waitangi Precinct buildings will not be on the park but beside it, on former car parks. Rather than reducing recreational space they will provide new recreational opportunities, including rock climbing and equipment hire, as well as urban forms of recreation (eating, drinking and shopping) suitable for the closest part of the waterfront to the entertainment district. These and other uses will enliven the park at night and in bad weather.

Let's turn the question around: would Auckland have large green parks at the Viaduct Basin? Of course not, yet we will have two large waterfront parks (Waitangi, Frank Kitts) plus several other public spaces (Taranaki Wharf, Queens Wharf and Kumutoto), gardens, playgrounds and a broad promenade. Wellington has some places that are lacking quality public spaces, but the waterfront will not be one of them.

Today's Capital Times is also full of Waterfront Watch, Jack Ruben and Con Flinkenberg sounding off on waterfront issues, but I think I'll stop boring you all with that for now and try to concentrate on subjects dear to you all. Like drinking.


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