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

Monday, May 28, 2007

Winning Waitangi

Ducks in the Graving Dock at Waitangi ParkWaitangi Park has won a Supreme Award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects. While the Dominion Post couldn't resist getting in a little dig ("Wellington's residents are divided over it") and no-one on the Architectural Centre blog has yet nominated it for Wellington's top ten public spaces, the official citation says:
The varied demands of powhiri, skateboard bowls, kids' playgrounds, sports fields and cleaning stormwater runoff among others underpin a project that offers a delightful experience for active users, passive observers and daily commuters. The park confidently mixes the robust and the gentle, visual and aural, contemporary and historic to create a sequence of spaces that are at once intimate and particular while adding to the greater identity of a major new city facility.
My own feelings are a bit more mixed. I agree that it is a really good piece of landscape architecture, with good confident bones and intriguing details, and vastly more interesting than if it had been a plain old bit of paddock. But I'm also inclined to agree with the Arch Centre: it's not one of Wellington's great spaces. Yet.

Many of the small gripes I identified back in January have been fixed, and the low-level planting in general is starting to look much more lush and settled in than it did back then. Once the main trees have grown to an appreciable height (which will take at least a decade), the park will have a lot more structure and definition to it. Now that things are finally starting to open up in the Chaffers Dock complex, it is starting to complement the park and join it to the water rather than looming over it as a blank no-go zone. But it won't be until the buildings to the west and northeast are completed, along with their accompanying public areas, that we'll see what Waitangi Park can really be. Then, the Waitangi Precinct as a whole could offer a series of great public spaces.

Waitangi park Graving Dock from above


At 4:43 pm, May 29, 2007, Blogger phil_style said...

As a complete layman when it comes to architecture, I give Waitangi Park the thumbs up.

I was resident on the parade for two years during the protraced construction of the park. Walking through it everyday once it was complete was a highlight of my trip to work.

The space is highly usable, which lends to its vlue, in my opinion. A sunday afternoon sees the place packed with families, sports people, tourists, skaters recreationalists et al. A great cosmopolitan space, right up there with Cuba for me in terms of anthropo-diversity. . . Did I just coin a new phrase. . . ?

At 9:53 am, June 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's with the street lights? Did they get a bulk discount for a motorway extension?

At 9:58 am, June 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

What street lights? The lights within the park have been given a deliberately industrial look to match the industrial heritage of the wharves. Or do you mean the large floodlights? They're for night-time events at the park.


Post a Comment

<< Home