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

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Terminal apoplexy

From time to time someone asks me why I don't run for council, since I seem to have so many things to say about Wellington. But in case I needed it, last night's Waterfront Development Subcommittee meeting to discuss the redevelopment of the Overseas Passenger Terminal provided ample evidence that if I were part of that milieu (or should I say melée?), my already tenuous grip on sanity would be rudely torn away.

The meeting was supposed to discuss the design, and as the one image available so far hadn't convinced me of its aesthetic merits, I wanted to see the presentations, animations and model. That side of things worked wonderfully, since I was able to see enough spatial complexity, elegance, contextuality and sculptural boldness to convince me that it would be an architectural and urbanistic delight. I should have some images to post very soon, and believe me, the sole image that's been published so far does the design no justice at all.

But before we could get to this, there was the depressing circus of council politics, with a dash of extra bitterness added by the presence of Waterfront Watch. There were raised voices, allegations of fraud made and withdrawn, letters from solicitors and mind-numbing minutiae of the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Waterfront Watch seem to have given up on providing any rational argument for why they think their predilections would produce a better city, and now concentrate on attacking the procedure, dragging up subparagraphs and disputed minutes with the sort of sour-faced righteous joy that indicates they've spent far too much time in committees. Cr Ruben admitted that he also preferred the design to the ones that hadn't met the criteria, yet he insisted on voting against every single motion because of differences of opinion on the different implications of the words "consultation" and "feedback". Is this standing on principle or political point-scoring? In any case, the Subcommittee voted to proceed to the public feedback stage.

And in the middle of all this; in the middle of the snideness, slander and audibly popping blood vessels; in the middle sat the architects and urban designers, just trying to bring some beauty and vitality into the world.

After all that, I needed a drink. I also needed a meal, since the meeting had dragged its excruciating way from 6pm to 9pm. So thank heavens for Scopa, which is indeed mystery bar number 29, as Jules identified. A quattro stagioni pizza, a glass of Chianti, and a complimentary glass of berry-infused grappa from Enzo behind the bar: what more could one need? Actually, I know of one thing that was missing, but that's beside the point.

By stripping out some of the over-fussiness from the former Rouge, providing delicious food at astonishing value (every main is under $20) and adding a foosball table, they've pretty much guaranteed that the place will bounce back to become a Wellington institution. Imagine how great it would be to have a place like this in a stunning new building overlooking the marinas! But not if Waterfront Watch get their way.


At 6:19 pm, May 12, 2006, Blogger the_sifter said...

So... what was missing?


At 3:36 pm, May 15, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

They don't do Martinis!


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