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

Thursday, February 16, 2006

One week to go

Waitangi Park - the Festival Club nearing completion
With a week to go until the opening of Waitangi Park, the Festival Club tent takes shape on the northeast corner of the park (not quite where I'd expected it to go). The last time I was here after a decent rain, the ground had got quite boggy, but I hope they've got the drainage more thoroughly sorted out now. The playground is still tantalisingly close to completion, and just like last weekend there were kids and parents playing on the playground, but this time there was a security guard to (politely) ask them to move away from what is still visibly a construction site.

Waitangi Park - frames for the Earth from Above exhibitionAnother of the Arts Festival attractions is currently being installed in the park. The frames for the Earth from Above exhibition are being laid out along one of the interior promenades. I saw this exhibition when it was outside the Natural History Museum in London, and while some of the images tended towards mawkish eco-sentimentalism (a kind of Anne Geddes for greenies), others were breathtaking and fascinating, and the exhibition should be well worth a look.

While the high-level structure of the park has been clear for a while, the details keep throwing up little surprises. The bowl of the skate park, for instance, was until recently just plain concrete, but now the city edge has suddenly sprouted these huge metal petals.

Waitangi Park - oxidised steel panels around the skate bowl
Those who complain about too much concrete and hard edges in the park will no doubt be appalled by this, but I think that it's a great recognition of the tough, urban location of the park and some of its activities (skating, street ball, graffiti). With its resemblance to the hull of an old ship, it also hints at the nautical history of the site (the skate park is near the end of the graving dock). They've already installed lighting beneath the panels, so this could look quite spectacular at night with light shining out between the gaps.


At 1:51 pm, February 17, 2006, Blogger Will de Cleene said...

It's taken forever and a day, a new contractor, and an Arts Festival to hurry things along but it's looking the business. The new improved Waitangi Park beats the buggery out of its previous incarnation.

What's with the skate petals? I saw the shallow half pipe a few weeks' ago and thought that it wasn't that challenging. Are the steel petals for skaters or looks? A little danger goes a long way.

At 2:14 pm, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reason I feel all warm and fuzzy about Waitangi park. Perhaps it is the big empty grass field. (well, it was featureless last time I saw it anyway) I truly cannot wait to go and frolic there.

Due to my reliance on icafes I haven't really examined plans in depth, can someone update me on the following:

seating: plain or fancy benches? midland park type edges? rocks?

public toilets: are there any? are they prominent or tucked behind something? will they have generous opening hours or will there be repeats of the Oriental Bay Guy Fawkes debacle (where two of my flatmates were left with little option but to urinate in front of numerous small children* who probably won't remember the fireworks, due in part to the toilets being locked by 7:30pm)

showground: is there a spot specifically designed for show events like circii? It would be good if big marquees and the like could be set up without taking up my football field. (on a little tangent here, did anybody see 'Picnic' at Chaffers? It was a light, fun physical comedy play thingy by some Dutch outfit and nobody I have spoken to went or can remember it.)

Basketball court: is there one? are there two? Apparently there is a much vaunted petanque pit so my assumption is other sports have also got their footprints.

public chessboards: yes or no?

graffiti wall: is the design sympathetic to the graffiti fun that used to grace Chaffers?

*these children were inexplicably playing tag in and around a block of public toilets, perhaps their award winning design confused them?

At 3:06 pm, February 21, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Zippy: the petals go around the bowl itself to form a kind of rail or screen. With the light shining between them, and LED lighting around the edges of the halfpipes, the skatepark should look quite spectacular at night.

Jason: lots of questions! Here are some quick answers:

- Seating: several types of bench, plus lots of concrete edges for informal seating, and several rocks and boulders that should be sittable.

- Public toilets: a little kiosk is being built at the moment, quite prominent between the playground and petanque piste next to the outer promenade, though I'm not sure if it'll be ready by the end of the week. Not sure of the opening hours. There will also eventually be toilets at the Western edge by the Chinese Garden, and possibly in the Herd St building.

- Showground: yes, the field is specifically designed for large events. This year, Les Arts Sauts will be situated outside it, leaving most of the field free for concerts (& football!), but in the future, tents of that size will presumably have to use part of the field.

- Basketball Court: on the way, just west of the skatepark. Though strictly speaking, it'll be a "streetball" court rather than a full basketball one. As well as this, the skatepark and petanque piste (which would also work for hackeysack or hopscotch), there will be climbing walls and boulders.

- Public Chessboard: one was on the earlier plans, but I haven't seen it on more recent versions. There are plenty of small open spaces that could be used for this later on, though.

- Graffiti Wall: there won't be as much space for graffiti as there used to be (I'd have liked to have seen more), but the graffiti walls are apparently being designed to fit in with the tough urban feel of the skatepark, streetball etc.

Phew! Wellington Waterfront should pay me for this!


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