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

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Future waterfront

Shed 5 and DocksideI've been asked to give a brief talk to the board and management of Wellington Waterfront Ltd (WWL) about my "three top priority ideas for the waterfront". It will be no suprise to most of you that I won't struggle for things to say, but while I've been asked to speak as an individual rather than as a representative for any group, I'd like to get your input into this.

So, what would you WellUrbanites like to see on the waterfront? While WWL have a fairly specific plan for the immediate future, there's still scope for imagination and speculation. What are the major problems with the waterfront that you'd like to see remedied? What are its good and bad qualities that should bee enhanced or ameliorated? What facilities does Wellington lack that might find a suitable home on the waterfront?

Your suggestions can be broadly conceptual (better connections to the city, more activity, better public spaces) or very specific (get rid of the Events Centre, give us a covered deli/market and a tiki bar). They can be prosaically practical (more shelter, more public toilets) or wildly fanciful (an underwater railway, a wooden rollercoaster). They can be socially responsible (green buildings, more affordable housing) or blatantly decadent (a casino and brothel). Let me know!


At 12:32 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few things in no particular order:

- Better pedestrian links to city and more shelter for pedestrians to make it more attractive option for commuters (might help ease the congestion in Featherston St).
- Better mix of development in Harbour Quays project with better connections to the city and Thorndon. Preferably development will start from the Railway Station end and move towards the Stadium, rather than vice versa.
- Propsed buildings next to Waitangi Park to go ahead to provide shelter, coffee, food, etc, basically to make a more friendly place (sod waterfront watch).
- Revamp of Frank Kitts Park to remove the concrete bunker façade it presents to the harbour side.

At 12:38 pm, July 20, 2006, Blogger noizy said...

echoing kegan - better pedestrian access to the waterfront, particularly from the CBD side. Another city-to-sea bridge further North (near Queen's Wharf, where the current pedestrian crossing seems to be on a once-every-five-minutes turnaround).

definitely a shop or two around Waitangi Park.

At 12:39 pm, July 20, 2006, Blogger noizy said...

oh, and some sort of rope-swing for doing big dives into the harbour.

At 1:00 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I definitely vote for an undercover farmers/artisan food-style market, in a similar vein to the Borough Market in London.

At 1:27 pm, July 20, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

The pedestrian access is a big one when you watch little kids with skateboards tucked under their arms trying to sprint across from the New World to the skate park.

Shops and safes are good. The gelato place by the lagoon must've killed over summer.

I like the field at Waitangi Park though the park itself needs more shelter. It's not always hot and sunny here.

Finally, so this will never fall off the agenda: TIKI BAR!


At 2:09 pm, July 20, 2006, Blogger mikeymike said...

Kegan's got it.

Any large scale development simply must be mixed use, and access to the Lambton quarter must be improved.

The "corner" area about the old Lynx berth is key. Unlike some I think residential development in that area would be a natural compliment to the office developments near shed 11. And if the Quays does end up being an office park. Assuming mixed use development does proceed, a similar (but possibly smaller) green space to Waitangi Park should be included in that broad area.

Oh, and since the Lyall Bay massive seem to have missed out, some sort of wave machine for the lagoon would be quite neat...

At 2:26 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Following on from trix's suggestion of covered farmer's market, and Kegan's suggestion of the revamp of Frank Kitts Park to remove the bunker facade:
If the carpark under Frank Kitts Park was included in this potential revamp so as to increase the number and size of access points, this area could be utilised in weekends for trix's covered market. And the carparks could still be retained for midweek use.

At 3:19 pm, July 20, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Noizy: the rope swing is a great idea! The little diving board that appeared last summer was a nice addition, but a rope swing would give that real "summer at the river" feeling. Not today, though.

Trix: yes, I loved Borough Market too. It was much more of an attraction than the usual "cheap veges" market: there's a place for that sort of thing (e.g. next to Waitangi Park), but I loved the variety and quality of produce at Borough. There are some limitations to a once-a-week market, though, and while Simon's idea of using the Frank Kitts carpark is a good one, I'm still pushing for my deli/market/restaurant/bar concept under Odlins building (whoops, NZX Centre). That could expand as a proper farmers' market at weekends by using some sort of temporary cover over the "wharf timber garden".

Guv: I think the Kumutoto plan calls for a mixture of residential and office development on sites 8, 9 and 10. That means that Kumutoto will have a nice mixture of residential, office, retail, cultural and hospitality activities, together with plenty of public space (compared to the rest of the CBD). The space between Site 7 and Shed 13 will be almost as big as Midland Park, and while the Harbour Quays masterplan has at least one similarly-sized park (just south of the Stats building, I don't think there's any major park or public space planned for between there and Kumutoto.

Oh, and the wave machine sounds fun!

Pedestrian access is obviously the common factor.

At 3:41 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of great suggestions above. Though I dont agree with Guv that we need more green space along the waterfront - maybe something much smaller, better sheltered etc, but we certainly dont need any more big paddocks.

I'd like to see them try to find an interesting old boat to stick outside Te Papa, and put a bar or restaurant or something onto. It was more interesting when the F69 was there, and when that was sunk I thought it was a shame they couldnt get the ship from King Kong and stick it there - it was barely seaworthy anyway, would have been a nice retirement for it. The main thing is though, that area seems a bit bare and boring, and a permanently moored, hopefully interesting ship being put there would make it nicer, IMO. If there are any particularly historical ships that could be moored there, it could even be incorporated into or associated with Te Papa somehow.

Lots more overbridges and better crossings are needed all the way along. Unless we get rid of all the cars - that would be nice, but I wouldnt count on it. It's only a matter of time before someone gets splattered all over the road outside New World, trying to cross to the park.

For my wildly fanciful suggestion, take a chunk of the port and make a new artificial beach, and name it "Occidental Bay".

At 3:45 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pedestrian access AND DISABLED access is a must. Wellington is a pig of a city for those who are not able to walk so well. Free mobility scooters next to a sizeable carpark would be my ideal.

Shelter is another must. Get real about the climate we live in - this is a Deep South Pacific island, not a tropical Pacific one.

Security is another concern. A waterfront patrol will be needed.

Finally, any walks should have historical photo displays and stories, so people can get an idea about the continuity of city life.

At 4:23 pm, July 20, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Andy: I agree that we don't need more big paddocks, but a variety of compact public spaces with active edges is indeed a must. There was a suggestion back in January to moor the Manuia outside Te Papa, but now someone's bought it and proposed to anchor it near Kumutoto as part of an aquarium. While the specific proposal sounds a bit cheesy, if the Marine Education Centre gets the kibosh, then maybe some variation on the Manuia scheme could work. But yes, outside Te Papa would be a much better spot, as it would punctuate a long dull stretch.

Anonymous: I agree that disabled access is important, and that the City-to-Sea bridge is far from ideal in that regard. I think there already is a free mobility scooter service on the waterfront, but I haven't seen them around for a while, so maybe that only runs in summer.

I agree whole-heartedly about shelter (open space is all very well, but it's not much fun on days like this), but security should be less of an issue once there are more people living and working there.

There's recently been a new set of historical signs put in as a heritage trail, and they're quite comprehensive with lots of information and photos. Waitangi Park will eventually get a few more historical and ecological intepretive signs, though some people already find that park too didactic.

At 4:26 pm, July 20, 2006, Blogger mikeymike said...

Trix and Tom, there is certainly something in this farmers market lark.

I've posted about CentrePort as a location option. Having given it some more thought, it could be a fantastic catalyst for effectively linking a Quays office park area to a more public/residential focus around where the Lynx used to dock.

The rental asked at Odlins may prove prohibitive whe a new concept (for the location) such a farmers market is considered. Although its certainly not impossible to imagine council subsidising it for a period... High numbers of vehicle movements may mean that port land is better suited too...

Its certainly worth flagging as an option for consideration in my book.

At 5:56 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

-a permanent foodmarket/fishmarket, replacing the temporary one on sunday mornings at waitangi park
-also have a new foodcourt, there's a lack of them in welly, and tourists love them.
-a fishing pier
-replace the oriental bay and frank kitts playgrounds with something bigger. theres not enough things for the kids to do when its packed.
-better carparking

At 6:01 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here, here Kegan, it's time to revamp Frank Kitts for sure.

I would love to see a plan for a continuous waterfront area right from the old Lynx through Oriental Bay, allowing minor deviations for some boats and such.

I would love to see the conversion from an port industrial zone to a pedestrian zone to be completed with the removal of the non-heritage warehouses including the “Event Centre” thing. This is a wonderful space has people walking through it every time the sun comes out, but hey are following the trails set by industry. I oppose the idea of ripping down warehouses to build hotels that further block the city from the sea and the people from the water.

If I was to dream big, I would love to see a heritage style / tourist trolley car track from one end to the other as well, linking Te Papa and the Bay at one end with future development to the west, creating anchor points.

Frank Kitts area is just screaming out for more small shops and cafes. Water side pizza and beer garden, etc.

Also agreed, disabled access to the waterfront needs considerable work.

Best wishes at your talk and thanks for asking for opinion.

At 7:50 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whole bunch of things, but severely redoing the north end of Frank Kitts/ south end of shed 6 and events centre is something that may at least partially pay for itself through "small shops and cafes. Water side pizza and beer garden, etc." and could really open up what is currently a real ugly and unecessary break in the flow of the whole water front.

The back end of those buildings are ugly and useless as hell, and it surely doesn't need to be that way.

At 8:26 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree broadly with Tom Beard's suggestions for improving the Waterfront - mixed use across the board, to encourage pedestrian-friendliness. I also have some of the following suggestions:

The western side of the Taranaki/Wakefield/Jervois Qy corner (the MFC end) needs a pedestrian crossing, without interrupting traffic flow too much.

The least that can be done to the Queens Wharf Events Centre is a facelift to make it more inviting, especially on the south and west sides.

Covers or shelters in major pedestrian areas would help a lot, whenever the wind and rain kick up a fuss.

Oh yes, Te Papa's waterside end can do with some more activity.

At 8:58 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Borough Market is great, and whilst it's mainly Fri and Sat only, it has spurred on lots of permanent development, such as bars and cafes around there. Maybe you should look at Greenwich Market, which is the same indoor period structure, and basically posh fruit n veg, meat, cheese etc... on some days, but more arts/crafts/fashion on other days, which could also be very Wellington, in the vein of Spitalfields.

Personally I thought the walkways along the Waterfront were a bit lacking when I was there, and some parts seemed a bit desolate. If it was to be an alternative corridor between the Courtney Place area and the railway station - or generally West to East, it'd neeed smartening up, signposting and obviously shelter!

And hate me for saying it, but the Hilton in Auckland really is quite beautiful...

At 11:20 pm, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with all above ideas, focus on pedestrians/cyclists (with provision for the disabled) not motor vehicles.

Thinking grand, what about a tall/large viewing tower, which is also a piece of civic artwork. Height could be anything, but not grossly out of scale with the area. Would be free to access by the public to give a nice vantage point in the immediate waterfront/city area. Could be an icon for Wellington?

At 3:14 am, July 21, 2006, Blogger Miramar Mike said...

I'd like to see an regular, good quality open market ("farmers market", "Paddys Market", "Camden Market"?) - be nothing better than strolling round stalls on a beautiful day with the harbour in the background ...

At 9:45 am, July 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some good suggestions - except I take issue with the call for more bridges! The Boulevardisation of Waterloo/jervois Quay MUST go ahead to create better connections for pedestrians and wheelchair users (etc). I believe this should be extended all the way past Te Papa to Waitangi Park as well, as the connections there are terrible. Also, there should be serious thought and ACTION given to the connections between the traditional public waterfront, and the new developments to the north.


Secondly, there should be broader commercial involvement - there will never be a truly vital mix if the business development opportunities are stifled by the hand of authority. Such control ensures that rentals exist at a premium, meaning that the 'lower end' (and more interesting) retail and other commercial ventures will never get a chance to establish themselves there (remember the 'mix' at Queen's Wharf - shudder). Having a more market oriented approach also means that the rate-payer will not end up subsidising commercial ventures - plus we get the benefit of a fluid and everchanging environment that doesn't deny the reality of modern urban life. (I hate utopianism).

end rant.

See you at ARCH Centre 60th tonight...

At 11:06 am, July 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comments are largely echos of the comments already made. As an avid (obsessive?) inline skater, I have to add that the importance of continuous paths is worth fighting for. The waterfront is currently a great place to skate, but suffers from a few black marks, where corridors get very narrow or the surface gets very rough or damaged. The one nice thing to say about Frank Kitts Park is that the footpath along it is incredibly wide.

There are actually few refreshment stands along the waterfront (with easy access): a mobile vendor near Fisherman's Table, Freyberg's, Kaffee Eis, Ferg's Kayak's. It's a bit of a nuisance to have to take off my skates to spend 2 minutes buying a drink.

Add this to the wishlist, but it might just be for me: more street performers. I love the street theatre community in Christchurch's Arts Centre. It's got a great life to it. I'm not sure if there's a spot along the waterfront that gets enough touristy/transient traffic to really support the same number of performers, but it would be great to see it tried.

At 1:45 pm, July 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Te Aro residents $2 worth:

Remove all the different levels at Frank Kits Park. I know it is the way it is to allow a carpark to be tucked underneath, but is this really the best use of the waterfront? Flattening Frank Kitts would get rid of the ugly walls between the waterfront and the park itself and get a better flow/connection between the park, waterfront and quay. Maybe a market space could also be incorporated into a redeveloped Frank Kitts which would add a great weekend node of activity.

In line with Jahn Gehls suggestions for Wellington get rid of the City to Sea bridge and all the different grade changes between Civic Square and the waterfront. Convert the Quays to a boulevard with at grade pedestrian crossings tying the waterfront and city together.

All the grade changes around Civic Square and Frank Kitts park just act to fragment the spaces and their visual connection to each other. Grade separation was popular in past but the reality was it tended to create lost spaces visually disconnected from each other and lacking the casual visual surveillance of more connected spaces.

The beauty of Waitangi park is that you can pretty much see the whole space, and who’s there, from anywhere in the space.

At 4:36 pm, July 21, 2006, Blogger chalk said...

More places to sit and eat and drink ( although I know this is rarely viable given the peculiar Wellington weather)

Using the space beneath Frank Kitts for something "active"

Some sheltered intimate spaces to make the waterfront more usable during rough weather.

And like everyone else- better pedestrian links to the city - no more bridges - but less cars and roadway.


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