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

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Competitive memorial

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has done the right thing and called for a competition to design the Buckle St New Zealand Memorial Park that I mentioned last month. It's not a completely public competition like the original Waitangi Park design process, so don't rush out and send in an entry unless you've got a good architectural CV to your name.

A key part of the design brief is that Buckle St has to be (controversially and expensively) realigned to the north. This diagram is no doubt just a rough guide, but it hints that the realignment would have to affect quite a long stretch of the street in order to avoid nasty kinks.

Re-alignment of Buckle StA competition is most appropriate in a project of national significance such as this, which raises the question of why the Supreme Court (which took another step forward with Budget funding) didn't go through a similar process. It's not too late to have one for the School of Music, which has finally also landed central government funding, and should be able to do much better than the initial sketches indicated.


At 6:13 pm, May 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that whole massey/old museum/tasman/wallace/taranaki/buckle precinct needs to be tidied up. It's such a well used area insofar as it's walked by university students, students from two or three high schools, residents of most of mount cook, etc. and is now home to one of the busier stretches of road in the city. tasman and taranaki streets, especially could be done up to make them nice areas to walk in and to sit in. at the moment, wellington high school students wander down the grey and windswept taranaki street frontage and linger on the edge of concrete embankments and access ramps and stairs.

are there provisions to widen taranaki street or is that space set aside for something else because you could throw medium rise apartments all down the length of that and make the whole area somewhere nice to walk down. it's on a busy bus route (to vic as well) anyway and close to uni so student accomodation would be suitable and the nature of the area suggests that cheap, poorly clad student apartments will fit right in

At 6:45 pm, May 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, they have said that Taranaki St was to get a makeover as well - ie rows of trees to make it into a boulevard. Which is good. But so why then are they busy installing concrete median barriers in Taranaki St right now? They're just going to rip them out again in 6 months...

At 7:57 pm, May 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One word: tunnel. How hard would it be to take the top off Buckle St and have it as a subterranean thoroughfare for a couple of hundred metres? Would allow for a nice uninterrupted stretch of park, and the topography is OK for it. You'd probably have to do something cunning about the road access around the carillion, but I'm sure something could be sorted.

At 9:05 pm, May 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hard to justify a tunnel to go under a park. if the land was commercially valuable, then fine, but an as yet unbuilt park is not really justification to spend millions putting a stretch of road underground. Plus, the point of this park is to be seen.

I mean, they're struggling to justify putting the Northern Motorway under Victoria Park in Auckland City and the volume of traffic that passes that stretch of road in a day probably exceeds Buckle Street in a week. (I have absolutely no factual basis for making that claim, for the record.)

I personally think that the road should remain straight and the traffic there slowed considerably. I cannot envisage how the park will become an active or attractive space if 1. the boundary of it is convex and 2. the space will be open to a busy road on one side, as well as open to the long view toward the harbour. I think the best design will be a stepped, terrace like design, or maybe big fuckoff staircase like at Cornwall Park in Auckland or maybe a structure like the gate at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.

I agree with the first anon, mainly because it was me :D

At 7:40 am, May 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be a tender then - not really an open competition...?

...and this jusn't isn't a park, but expected to be a site of national significance - an integral part of our nation building process - methinks a little tunnel shouldn't necessarily be out of the question on the grounds of commercial viability.

That said, I don't have a problem with a well conceived road, my problem is that the road will be designed by Transit (no doubt already has) with all of the trappings that that involves. The park design will be a separate process, and the distinction between the two elements will be painfully obvious. The best outcome would be for the road to be included in the tender brief - straight, curved, or otherwise.

My preference on that front would be a road that continues the present position, as Karo Drive is the perfect nasty example of how a road that snakes through the city grid can only ever be an urban wound. The grid (and all of its historical significance) should be kept intact - long live the grid...

At 9:08 am, May 30, 2007, Blogger Hadyn said...

I agree with the second "anonymous". Tunnel. Or at least canal.

One of the big log jams on Karo Dr is the intersection with Tasman St. Tasman could remain a surface road with Karo going under it. It doesn't have to be for 100s of metres in fact it could just be a short "dip". Karo drive doesn't have to be a tunnel just hiden from view would be nice.

The third anon said "the point of this park is to be seen". Do you mean "seen from your car while you drive past"? I would rather enjoy it by wandering through it.

"I personally think that the road should remain straight and the traffic there slowed considerably". You obviously haven't been past Karo Dr recently. At most times the traffic is slow. Very slow.

Car access to the site could be done with a small road off Tasman. Or even just from behind the memorial through Massey (which already exists).

I would like there to be a largish grass field for the main part though. That area gets a lot of sun and it would be a lovely place for picnics, sunbathing, frisbee, rememberence looking towards the sea (like the area in front of Auckland's War Memorial Museum).

At 10:59 am, May 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You obviously haven't been past Karo Dr recently. At most times the traffic is slow. Very slow.

Sorry, I think I meant calmed, and slowed in the sense that it is easy for pedestrians to cross. Whereas, regardless of the speed right now it'd be difficult to just wander across. (recent fervour about wandering peds notwithstanding)

At 3:16 pm, May 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A tunnel would be nice, but ain't gonna happen with the money available, but some form of trench would be preferable, it would also offer a chance to have pedestrian bridges at the Tasman and Tarankai ends and one in the middle drawing you into the middle of the park in from of the Carillion,

With the memorial already being elevated and on a natural slope, you may be able to have a one sided high trench wall on the south side ( would also hide the vehicles from the park ), ( Park would need to be built up as to remain flat, ( or slightly raised with a terrace or something at the trench edge,)

You could then have no wall on the north side as the slope fell away

At 5:41 pm, May 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if only the bypass had been done the right way it the road would already be underground and ALL of the space there could be used for the park, instead now you're going to get a half assed park and a half assed road.

At 5:50 pm, May 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its the easiest place in the world to do a "cut and cover" on this stretch - no expensive tunnelling machinery, they just need to curve the road to one side for a few months, send the graders and a couple of big D12 Caterpillars throught there, and voila, you have a cut in which to build your road. We used to be able to do things like that simply in this country - even farmers would cut new roads up to the back paddock, and really, this aint that much more different to that. Give me the bulldozer and a couple of thousand litres of diesel, and i'll do it myself. Just stop all the pissing around and petty whining.

Then a section gets rebuilt as a grassed bridge over. Park goes over the top, arrives other side, pedestrians walk from Massey / old Museum / War Memorial, right over the top, and end up at the door to the Mt Cook School.

Meanwhile, smelly old cars can whizz away underneath till the next set of lights.

At 12:19 am, May 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hung out there with some design school folk today and I have changed my opinion (im a couple of the anti-tunnel anons) on the tunnel. I seemed to think it was flatter than it actually is, but yeh, it's definitely feasible. Plus tunnels are cool. However, itd have to be pretty soundproof cause the tooting would make it a pretty noisy park. (no noisier than if it had a major road next to it though.) Also, the pollution escape vent could take the form of fun sculptures :)

At 7:39 am, May 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would definitely support a tunnel/trench/grade seperation of some sort, both aesthetically and from the fact that the Tasman/Tory/Buckle intersection is one of the most dangerous for the new cycle lane that I now use to get home :-).

However, if you remove this intersection, that leaves no way for cars to get from Tory to Taranaki without (a) going all the way around the basin, (which car drivers would scream murder about) or (b) using Courtney place (which I'd also like to see closed to private cars!). So not sure it would be feasible.

At 12:08 pm, May 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say I kind of like Tom's curve. (I'm not sure if that was his intention.) If the road was just going to be a 2-lane, 1-way continuation of the bypass, a nice curve with the apex centred on the centreline of the Carillion could work well into the design of the park.

However I'm a tunnel supporter. It would be more aesthetic and future proof. After building the park and siting a bunch of memorials in the tunnel's proposed path, it'll become impossible.

Four what Colin was saying: 4-lanes bidirectional, because this allows Vivian to return to bidirectional traffic too. So cars that currently move from Tory to Taranaki via Buckle and Courtenay would use Vivian, just as cars from Taranaki to Tory do at the moment. Courtenay becomes a transit mall.

Of course cost is always the issue! What would the estimate bem about $20-30 million? Probably not impossible if put in the context of the Ngauranga to Airport study, and the Transit plans for the Basin improvements. But if people want it they better start campaigning for it soon.

The location actually supports a tunnel really well, because of the grades the approaches/portals would be quite short which is double aesthetic from the parks POV. Tom do your fancy GIS tools allow you to generate a cross section from Taranaki to Cambridge? It'd be nice to see one.

At 1:10 pm, May 31, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Erentz: I can't take credit for that curve - it's taken straight from the overview document (2.7MB PDF) on the official website.

It's probably easier to make a tunnel here than in other parts of the city, because there is a slight hill along the length of it. It's not easy for me to do a cross-section, but there is a rough contour map (1MB PDF) on the same site that indicates the hill to be about 5m. That's not a huge amount, but it means that you wouldn't have to worry so much about sloping the entrance and exit. There's still the intersections to worry about, and I'm not sure a tunnel could be justified for such a short stretch of road.

At 1:11 pm, May 31, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"That would be a tender then - not really an open competition...?"

I suppose so. At least they're not just giving it directly to W&M like they usually do.

At 12:58 am, June 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this is a national monument why are the veiws of all New Zealanders not being solicited?

There shouldn't be any problem getting the money for a tunnel. Wellington is unique among the major centres. Auckland and Canterbury have both contributed $b1.5 more to the National Road Fund than they received whereas Wellington has received $500 mill more than it contributed, this overpayment occurred between mid 1960s and mid 1970s so is probably due to the foothills motorway.
http://www.petroltax.org.nz/statistics.html (Rev-Exp.xls)


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