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

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Future waterfront 3: special attractions

Here's the second part of my "blue skies" talk about the future of the waterfront. Following on from the importance of good connections, this section discusses some potential special attractions.

Special attractions

In a sense, we don’t need a lot of special attractions, since the waterfront itself will make even ordinary activities special: a decent restaurant or a nice shop would much more appealing at Waitangi or Kumutoto. Even if there were nothing there that you couldn't find on Cuba St or Lambton Quay, it would still be a fantastic part of town. And we need some of this ordinariness on the waterfront, to make it a part of people's everyday lives.

But there are some activities that could only be on the waterfront, or that would make particular sense there. Some of the suggestions I received, with various degrees of seriousness, included a fishing pier, a rope swing into the water, a historic ship moored outside Te Papa, a wave machine in the lagoon, a heritage tram, and a sculptural, iconic viewing tower. But one suggestion came time and again in different guises: a permanent covered market.

The Sunday vegetable market at Waitangi is popular and worthwhile, and should definitely continue, but it would be wonderful to have something more varied, stylish, comfortable and permanent. Rather than just being a place to get cheap veges, it should showcase the best local foods, along the lines of London's Borough Market. I envisage something like a cross between Moore Wilson Fresh and Kirkcaldie's collection of specialist food shops, but by selling only produce from Wellington and the surrounding regions, it would be unique enough to be a tourist attraction yet practical enough for locals.

Suggested locations included near the old Lynx terminal and in the Frank Kitts underground carpark, but I prefer the ground floor of the NZX building. It's halfway between Lambton and Te Aro, on the tourist route from Civic Square to Te Papa, with space for a restaurant, office workers nearby and the ability to spread out onto Odlins Plaza for a traditional farmers' market at weekends.

The Odlins building seen from Taranaki Wharf (before the electronic signs were added)While we already have a lot of museums and galleries in Wellington, I think there are still gaps in areas such as science and design. Te Papa does a good job of natural history, but we could still do with a specialist interactive museum about pure science, mathematics and technology. I'd also like to see a design museum. I know that the Architectural Centre is looking for an exhibition venue, and I'd love to see the Te Papa extension at Waitangi specialise in architecture, fashion, furniture, product design, graphics and multimedia.


At 4:08 pm, August 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally unrelated to your post, I'm now only getting the first X number of characters via RSS. Something you've changed?

FWIW, I very much prefer the full text in my RSS reader.

At 4:53 pm, August 09, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

No, my feed is still set to full content, and it works for me in bloglines when subscribed to the Atom feed (I haven't checked the RSS to see if it's different). Maybe it's something that Blogger is doing?

At 9:48 pm, August 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom - your specialist permanent market sounds a bit exclusive to me.Do you want families on your proposed site?
Often low income people cannot afford expensive pastimes, but would welcome a stroll along a colourful parade of stalls, buskers, story tellers, magicians, and whatever veges they can afford to buy. What is more, the tourists may be caught up in the swing of things and relax in what is now a sterile environment. They may also buy some costly NZ food product to take home to their friends.
Go for it !

At 9:51 pm, August 09, 2006, Blogger Baz said...

Wellington could definitely do with a museum of science and technology filled with big old computers, industrial equipment, and steam trains or the Overlander in a couple of months. And perhaps last year's iPod models. ("This one had a four gigabyte hard drive, if you can believe such a thing".)

I'm not so sure about a design museum. I get enough of that when I open my wardrobe doors.

At 9:55 pm, August 09, 2006, Blogger David said...

My grandma used to work for a company whose name was something like Market Gardeners. They were based in one of the old buildings across from Te Papa, and I remember visiting there as a very young boy about 1970 or so. It was a place to buy and sell produce, presumably mostly to grocers I'm guessing, and there was a warehouse-like area with loading docks and vegetables moving around.

So I like the been-there done-that aspect of your idea.

At 11:33 am, August 10, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Hi there Joy,

Yes, I admit that my concept is deliberately upmarket: more like a deli, Borough Market or Moore Wilson Fresh than the "cheap veges" style of market. Quality local produce is not cheap, nor is space in such a central location, and kiwis seem to have a "quantity over quality" approach to food.

A deli/market/bar would be able to attract people during the week (e.g. grabbing some fresh meat, bread and veges on the way home to cook for dinner) as well as the weekend, thus supporting the higher rents at a place like the NZX centre.

We already have a couple of open air Sunday vege markets, and perhaps they would be better suited to adding a range of stalls, buskers etc to create the sort of family market that you're talking about. The one between Te Papa and Waitangi Park might be the ideal candidate, and would complement the Park nicely.

The two concepts would be complementary and would meet quite different (though overlapping) needs in Wellington.

At 2:29 pm, August 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wellington desperately needs a respectable farmer's market. Apparently the new Moore Wilson's market up in Porirua is showing some potential. Nevertheless, the CBD badly needs a place where you can get fresh produce, a great coffee, and a gourmet sandwich all in one attractive spot. The current farmer's market is okay for picking up the basics, but the car park ambiance is dismal and it could certainly use some more variety.

I moved to Welli from San Francisco 5 years ago, so I just missed the Ferry Building Farmer's Market opening - but apparently it's awe inspiring. I grew up in Philadelphia, which has the outstanding Reading Terminal Market, another benchmark. Then there's the market in Barcelona - Mercat de Boqueria. And Vancouver's Granville markets.

What does Wellington have? Right now, shite. I truly hope that changes soon.

At 2:43 pm, August 28, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Or even better, the Santa Caterina market in Barcelona. Definitely something better than a grotty carpark.

Moore Wilsons Fresh certianly has some great qualities, but it's not close enough to the hub of the city to be a practical everyday option for people on foot.


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