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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

UN-predictable combination

The winners of the Waitangi Precinct design competition have been announced, with a big article on the front page of today's Dominion Post. While I thought that a combination result (picking different entries for the two halves of the site) might be possible, I didn't expect this particular combination: John Wardle's scheme for sites 1 to 3, together with UN Studio's site 4 building.

In my round up of the competition entries, I said that UN Studio's aluminium-clad museum extension for site 4 was the most beautiful of all the proposed buildings, and that it merged with the landscape in an intriguing way. It's certainly a complex building, and hard to get one's head around, so maybe this exploded perspective view might help:

Site 4 building by UN Studio - exploded viewIt's a bold choice, and Wellington Waterfront Ltd are striking a cautious note about the likely expense of this building. For more detail, see my review of UN Studio's entry, and the PDF files on their page at the WWL site.


John Wardle provided a dramatic interpretation of sites 1 to 3, and while I had my reservations about the scheme, it's still a very exciting suite of buildings.

Site 1-3 buildings by John WardleSince one of these buildings includes some apartments, finding financial backing is likely to be easier than for the site 4 building. For more information, have a look at my review of John Wardle's entry, and the images on their page at the WWL site.


In a way, I'm disappointed that at least some of the scheme by Architecture Workshop and Kerstin Thompson wasn't chosen, but for all of that scheme's urbanistic and environmental virtues, it just seemed a little too tame. While I believe there are some issues with the winning schemes (such as the absence of a hostel and market space at site 4, and the need for some extensive sun and wind modelling to ensure that sites 1-3 produce quality public space), I'm glad that the jury has gone for bold and dramatic buildings. There's still a long process to go through (public consultation, resource consents, looking for tenants and investors), and with luck that process will resolve any such issues without compromising the creative vision for the sake of pressure groups and short-term commercial expedience. Fingers crossed!


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