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

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blogging while you walk

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Blog Hui 2006Some of you will already be aware of this weekend's Blog Hui, New Zealand's first conference on blogging. There was a bit of a kerfuffle earlier this year when a lot of idiots made ill-informed and prejudiced comments on David Farrar's blog (quelle surprise) doubting its credentials, but there's an impressive list of speakers, including hypertext pioneer Mark Bernstein. A lot of the academic speakers will look beyond the usual concept of the personal blog, concentrating on blogs as collaborative or educational tools, so perhaps it's no surprise that people whose idea of a blog is limited to "a forum for slagging off one's political opponents" were unaware of the speakers' reputations.

I'm not attending the conference per se, but I'm participating in an event called the Blog Walk on Sunday. I'll be guiding people around the city, while James Farmer will stop us at various points for discussions and/or blogging. The exact route will depend upon the weather and people's stamina, moods and interests, but on the way around the usual sights I'll try to steer us into some of the hidden corners of Wellington.

Blog Walk - approximate route
This map gives a rough idea of where we'll be going, but in the spirit of the collaborative web, I'm open to readers' suggestions: where are the unmissable hidden gems, quirks and disgraces of Wellington? I already plan to show them the scungiest dark alley in town, the "London Bridge" of Ghuznee St, the significance of Harry Holland's buttocks and what has been called "Albert Speer's only venture into the Southern Hemisphere"; but if you have stories to tell and gossip to spread then leave a comment and let us know. I want our international visitors to know more of our city than they can find in the tourist guides.

The Blog Walk starts at 10am Sunday from Turnbull House in Bowen St, so come and join us if you're interested.


At 11:16 pm, March 16, 2006, Blogger David said...

My least favourite building is the enormous post office down near the railway station. Bland and badly proportioned, I think. Couplely wrong for its location.

The Beehive might look OK on its own site, rather than stuck on the side of the (rather pleasant) old parliament building. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me think where that site may be. On a bank of the Spree, alongside East Germany's orange coloured parliament, perhaps?

There must be twenty awful apartment blocks around Oriental Bay you could show people. The dreadful one that marches up the hill in "steps" would be a candidate if you could only choose one.

I've softened in my feelings for some of the high rise government office blocks around parliament which, oddly, seem to get better with age. One that hasn't is Vogel House. I worked there, on contract, for a couple of months and it is ugly, outside and in.

And although I like some aspects of Te Papa (like the huge circular window), I find it strange that different architects designed each side of the building and they didn't talk to each other.

At 10:47 am, March 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that hidden, but my walking gems are:

Sneaking off the Oriental Parade drag by walking off Waitangi Pk straight into the Port Nich marina and walking along by the boat sheds and round the back of the swimming pool.

Walking up McFarlane St and to the monastry and then down to Or Parade.

At 11:05 am, March 17, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

David: I have to agree about the post office slab. I rarely think a building is so bad that it deserves to be demolished, but if anything in Wellington does, this is the one.

The Beehive was actually designed to complement the Parliament buildings, with the base following the cornice line and columnar rhythm. Sir Basil Spence thought that a circular building would visually "anchor" the complex on its sloping site than a rectangular plan would: I think I can see his point, but it doesn't leap out at me.

RPH: yes, one of the less obvious little benefits of Waitangi Park is the connection from the OPT to the boat sheds at water level. For all the talk of developments "cutting off" the waterfront, this has actually vastly improved pedestrian access to the water, and it's finally possible to walk along the water's edge right from Kumutoto to Oriental Bay and beyond.

I'm not sure whether we'll venture into Oriental Bay: I'll leave that up to the mood and stamina of our guests on the day. But thanks for all the suggestions.

At 4:05 pm, March 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys. Minor surgery stopped me being able to walk today. Hope it went well, and I'd expect some sort of summary to appear in my Sharpreader sometime??
Good to meet you the other night Tom.
Home, with decent internet for the first time for 7.5 days. WHEW!!


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