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

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I'm a little too tired to write any proper posts at the moment (I'm still not sure how I managed to write yesterday's), for reasons that will become clear soon. So in the interim, here are a few little Wellington snippets.

Terrible drawing of the Hannah PlayhouseOne of my favourite Wellington buildings won an award for enduring architecture from the Institute of Architects.

A group of commercial landlords are fighting the Harbour Quays development (page A4 of today's DominionPost - not online), on the basis that it will "suck the soul" out of the CBD. Or out of their currently high rents and profits, perhaps? But they do have a point, at least if it continues as a bargain-basement office park monoculture with poor connections to the rest of the city. Developing the old ports and rail yards is not a bad idea in itself, but it needs to be denser, with a mixture of uses and conceived as a seamless extension of the CBD rather than as an "alternative" to it. The council have been trying to improve urban design standards there, and Ernst Zollner from the council said that "the Statistics building hasn't worked". I'm not sure what criteria this was based on, since it attracted a moderately positive article in Architecture New Zealand and a sustainable building award from the Ministry for the Environment. I quite like it as a building: it's just the whole concept of an "office park" that I object to.

The crafty bitches (their words, not mine!) behind the popular BitchCraft urban craft fairs have now come up with CraftWerk. The first one starts at the Paramount Theatre on the 13th of July at 5:30pm.

Georgia Dimock has written a nice article over at My Wellington about the influence of Wellington's topography on our urban form, and the joys and frustrations of living among the hills.

While I appreciate the more creative examples of street art and graffiti in the city, being the middle-class faux bohemian that I am, I've never liked tagging. However, I've found a reason to start liking it: it irritates the hell out of Karl du Fresne.

And finally, while I've tried to avoid turning WellUrban into a personal blog, I suppose I'll have to post something about my involvement in the 48 Hours film challenge: after all, everyone else has. I survived the toilet scene; I survived (and rather enjoyed) the basil-infused olive oil scene; but I almost didn't survive Che's car. And we never did find that key.


At 12:25 pm, May 31, 2006, Blogger s. said...

> However, I've found a reason to
> start liking it: it irritates
> the hell out of Karl du Fresne.

Hee hee hee.. I had the exact same reaction when I read that piece.

At 2:23 pm, June 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, when is your film showing?

At 9:46 am, June 02, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

It already screened on Tuesday at 5.45 (Heat 1). But may be it'll be on again in the finals (touch wood).

At 1:06 pm, June 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who works in the marine industry I'm intrigued by what the harbour quays development means for the future of Wellington as a commercial port. It does rather smell of a get rich quick plan from Centreport rather than a long term strategic development of Wellingtons urban and port environment.

With my marine hat on, I'm assuming that this development means the end of commercial activities on the affected wharves. Is this in tune with the Wellington regions development and growth goals. After all, ports and shipping are vital for getting goods to market in an island nation. It's also not as if Wellington port has an excess of other land to expand into if there was a future need.

Finally, I'm intrigued to know how tolerant business and any residential tennants are going to be of the noise and dirt from the remaining adjacent port operations. Experience suggests that people quickly start complaining about 'noise' from ships such as engines, whistles, tannoy announcements, crane movement alarms. Restrictions on operations inevitably follow which leads to the inevitable slow death of the industrial activities which predated the new tennants.

At 1:34 pm, June 07, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

The broader "City Gateway" plans were based on a reorganisation of the wharf and railway operations, as well as CentrePort and Toll's own projections of a decline in operations. However, their more recent projections indicate that they might have to increase operations instead!

This hasn't stopped plans for the narrower Harbour Quays development, much of which is on land that ceased to be used for port operations some time ago, and has been a half-hearted office park for many years. I'm not sure of the status of the finger wharves themselves (at the southern end of the development), but from my outsider's eye, it looks like they've only had sporadic use in the last few years. Feel free to correct me!

At 1:24 pm, June 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The finger piers are reasonably well used with strait shipping use them as their ferry terminal and then there is Pacifica service to Lyttleton calling 3 times a week as well. The tugs are also berthed there and a number of other smaller commercial operators use them intermittently. The problem is that there isn't many other places to berth a ship or boat in wellington which offer some shelter from the winds.

The piers particularly suit ferry and ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off) freight services which are unable to use anywhere else in the port. However, if there was a decision to build a modern shared ro-ro ferry terminal for all on reclaimed land to the North of the existing Interislander operation and retain at least some wharf space for smaller commercial and fishing operators then everybody could be a winner.

Overall I like the ideas within the city gateway concept. It will dramatically improve that part of town and provide a link with the isolated stadium. I just wouldn't like to see scarce wharf space sold off without some long term vision of New Zealands future marine transport growth requirements and how they will be met by the ports. Wellington is very well placed to be a hub for future coastal shipping growth. If Centreport have a plan for how they'll meet this challenge that's good, but somehow I doubt it.


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