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

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Public views

I've taken a bit of a break from the letter pages recently, but I felt I had to reply to some of the letters in last week's Capital Times opposing the Queens Wharf Hilton. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course, especially about subjective issues such as aesthetics, but I felt that some of the complaints are fundamentally misinformed. Some give the impression that existing panoramic views will be obliterated, and others claim that existing publicly-accessible spaces will be "enclosed". Here is my reply, which was published today:
People are still talking nonsense about the Hilton. Some claim that it will block views, but with the same footprint as Shed 1 it won’t block any harbour views. There'll be a fraction less sky to look at, but that hardly counts as a "view", and the view at ground level will be much livelier than at present.

The other claim is about loss of public access. As David Harris said (March 1) "...we lose access to a beautiful and useful part of Wellington. What was commonly available to us all will be enclosed". I've been trying to work out what he's talking about. Is it the interior of Shed 1? Try walking through the middle of a soccer game, or late at night or on Sunday when the gates are locked, and see where your "public access" gets you. Is it the surrounding boardwalks? Not only will they remain public, they will be extended and upgraded: you'll be just as welcome to walk past the Hilton as beside Shed 5.

I have sympathy for the sports people, and agree that a replacement venue should be found in the CBD, but complaints about loss of views or access are misleading.

And on the subject of a replacement indoor sports venue, I spoke to some people from Wellington Waterfront recently, and they seem to be taking seriously my suggestion of the Clifton Terrace carpark as an option.


At 3:12 am, March 09, 2006, Blogger David said...

Having been in San Francisco in 1989, I'd hesitate to put anything under a raised motorway that requires people to linger or work in the area.

I don't think it is safe.

At 11:07 am, March 09, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

It's very common overseas to make use of the space under motorways, certainly in the UK, but I think also in Japan which also has earthquake issues. I can't say for certain what the quality of earthquake engineering is for that particular section of Wellington motorway, but I think we've been on the forefront of quake-safe design for some time. In anything short of a catastrophic shake, I'd say your probably safer under there than you would be walking down Lambton Quay.

I can think of at least one local example where people are permanently working beneath an elevated section of motorway: at the north end of Thorndon Quay there's a recently-built furniture showroom that's partially beneath the motorway.

At 11:20 am, March 09, 2006, Blogger David said...

The columns holding up the CT section of motorway are very tall and the weight of the concrete deck is enormous. The sideways forces are going to be huge in a large earthquake.

Just call me sceptical.


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