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

Friday, March 09, 2007

Brut, Brutalism and Brutes

The Architectural Centre is running a little outing tomorrow (the 10th of March) called Brutalism and Bubbles. It's a train excursion to the Hutt Valley and back to central Wellington to appreciate, draw and photograph some examples of that much-misunderstood architectural movement (the name comes from b├ęton brut, meaning "raw concrete", and has nothing to do with brutality). Oh, and it sounds like there may be some alcohol involved.

Anyone can join in: you just need $15 for the all-day Metlink Explorer ticket. I've put together a public ZoomIn group of the places along the way, and we may add some photos and drawings to the places once we're done.

The full timetable:

10:05am Meet at the Wellington Railway Station to catch the Hutt Valley Line to Upper Hutt
(10:50am) draw Civic Centre & visit Expressions
12:30pm catch Hutt Valley Line from Upper Hutt to Heretaunga
(12:37pm) draw Heretaunga Campus lecture theatre, picnic lunch & frisbee
2:37pm catch Hutt Valley Line from Heretaunga to Waterloo Station
(2:44pm) Walk to TheNewDowse to appreciate contemporary architecture
4:06pm Walk to Lower Hutt - Queensgate, Stop B, Hutt City, Bus Service: 83 departs 4.10
5:45 Arrive Courtenay Place, draw the Hannah Playhouse ... possibly from the bar downstairs ... later stroll on to Happy (cnr Tory+Vivian St) for some more drinks etc. in the former Cricketers Arms.

Talking of the Architectural Centre, their submission on the upcoming heritage listing consultation takes the unusual approach of proposing a list of "negative heritage"; that is, "sites and buildings which are negative contributions to the built environment", and for which there should be incentives to redevelop. I'm sure that many of you will have a long list of such brutes (and they may even overlap with the above list of brutalist gems), so go ahead and make some suggestions here. I'm ususally very cautious of advocating demolition, but here are a few obvious ones for me:


At 10:17 am, March 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Central police station on the corner of Harris and Victoria, is an cheap looking blight, they should be forced to paint it something bright and interesting.

The Murphy and Von Zedlitz buildings at Victoria Uni can go in the blight list too..

At 12:16 pm, March 09, 2007, Blogger s. said...

The Heretaunga campus building is a thing of stupendous beauty. I hope you can get inside, too, and I hope they haven't updated the interior fit-out since I was a student at CIT there a good number or years ago -- though I appreciate that's not technically of relevance in a appreciation of Brutalism.

If you get a chance, try to check out the GCSB building just up the road from the Heretaunga campus, approx cnr Somme and Messines.

At 12:17 pm, March 09, 2007, Blogger s. said...

umm *of, *an *blush*

At 1:08 pm, March 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Duxton Hotel needs, at the very least, a facelift. As do the Charles Ferguson Bldg on Bowen, and much of the Molesworth St precinct.

At 2:36 pm, March 09, 2007, Blogger Butane Steeple said...

Speaking of the university, what about the pictures in the Dom post earlier this week of the monstrosities they're proposing to build.

There may be a need for more student accommodation, but not at that price.

At 2:59 pm, March 09, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Butane: I haven't commented about those yet because I don't know the specific area that well. I can see the general area from my window at home, but I'll have to find time to walk around there and get familiar with the neighbourhood. The designs certainly looked pretty horrid, but I'm not necessarily opposed to that size & type of development there, and some of the neighbours' comments sounded like the worst sort of NIMBYism. "Oh no! Students! Our life is over!"

At 12:27 am, March 10, 2007, Blogger Off-Black said...

In the vein of Stephens comment, I too spent some years at CIT. I abseiled from the roof of the lecture theatre a couple of times.
I always liked its angularity, and the way it is sunken into its own little space in front of the main entrance.

When I was there the angled desks didn't have sills, meaning each lecture was a continual battle to stop your notes and various other materials falling into your lap.

I always liked the way the central buildings were laid out there; very easy for even the newest noob to navigate.

It's a shame to see how underutilised the site appears to be now compared to its heyday. The years I spent at the campus were its last as CIT, and it felt like watching something die as the place was wound down.


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