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

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fowler & Jones

A couple of architecture-related snippets:

I may have found some of his pronouncements perplexing, but Sir Michael Fowler's recent interview on Radio NZ National is worth a listen. He reminisces on his time as mayor, and as an architect, and gives a defence of the 80s "demolition derby". I partly agree with him on that: while we lost some beautiful buildings, I just couldn't imagine Lambton Quay without our little skyscrapers. But mentioning ArcHaus in the same breath as Athfield & Walker?!?

So, Bob Jones thinks that green buildings are "a fad" and "fashionable inanity", because NZ doesn't have power or water shortages? Given that he has long since descended into self-parody, I can't work out why the papers think his self-consciously curmudgeonly outbursts are worth wasting ink and bandwidth on. With any luck, it's stereotypical, short-sighted, money-grabbing "property tycoons" like him that are the fad that will be forgotten in a decade's time. On the other hand, maybe not.


At 7:11 pm, July 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't agree with everything Bob Jones says but he was certainly right when he spoke of the absurd sum the council paid to have those christmas lights in Lambton Quay fixed. As for 80s Lambton Quay scrapers, the only scyscrapers i really hate is that Pricewaterhouse Coopers building across fom Midland park and the TSB Bank building to the right of Midland Park. Those need to be demolished for more modern buildings.

At 7:19 pm, July 10, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

I don't remember Sir Bob saying anything about Christmas lights, though he had a recent outburst (in the Wellingtonian) about the "Whipping the Wind" neon sculpture: is that what you're talking about? If it is, I don't agree, since I think it's great to see the sculpture working again after so many years of neglect.

At 8:09 pm, July 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes i'm talking about Whipping the Wind. For $19,000 they could have built something much for spectacular to liven that part of town. If i hadn't read it it the newspaper i would not have noticed those lights had even been turned on, and i'm sure not many other people will notice either. I much prefer that sculpture in Post Office Square - Skyblues i think it's called. Something like that would have been money better spent IMO. Keep up the good work.

At 8:12 pm, July 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You gotta remember that what Sir Bibbity Bobbity likes most of all is a good laugh, and one of the best ways appears to be (to him at least) to wind stuffy self-important people up. Hence he hates Council workers, and anyone he believes is a bit pumped up about their own importance in the world. ....Sooooo, there is a good chance that he's chortling away at the report in the paper today.

Not sure why he does not like the Neon sculpture - its loud, brash, and goes on and off in a pretty random manner. In a sense, its just like Sir Robert himself... maybe he hates himself and was abused as a child...?

At 9:20 pm, July 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Archaus ? ARCHAUS ???!?!?!?!

am i on the same planet as this man? Cos on my planet, they appear to be appalling.

At 8:55 am, July 11, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Anon 1 & 3: $19k doesn't sound all that much compared to the cost of a new sculpture, which would be more likely to be 6 figures. I've only seen it running again a couple of times, but a lot of people work or commute around that corner, so plenty of people should be able to enjoy it.

Hadfield: I know, it's almost not worth taking the bait. But when the papers seem to take him seriously, the public might start thinking he is a serious commentator rather than just taking the piss. I guess the DomPost editorial team are of a similar generation and are nostalgic for his japes.

Anon 4: I couldn't quite believe it myself when someone mentioned it the other day, so I had to have listen to make sure that he didn't actually say "Architecture Workshop" or "Architecture Plus". As I said in response to that:

"ArcHaus have produced some decent stuff - I really like the Kate Sylvester building; the new Audi/Porsche dealership in Cambridge Tce looks nice in a high-tech way (even though it's a poor use of space); and I even quite like the Museum Hotel Apartments. But most of their stuff has been cheap, bottom-line-driven envelope-filling lumps, and I certainly wouldn't include them with Ath & Walker. Architecture Workshop, Studio Pacific & Melling:Morse would go way, way ahead of them on my list."

At 8:22 pm, July 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

News flash: John Campbell will be talking to Bob Jones about green building tomorrow night ie Thursday at 7pm - Campbell Live.

Yes, the same Bob Jones who is such an "expert" on green matters.... hopefuly they have someone with an opposing, more positive viewpoint.

At 9:29 am, July 12, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Aha, I'll have to watch that. Perhaps this news report will be timely: yes, NZ has no *cough* power shortages *cough*.

At 10:59 am, July 12, 2007, Blogger s. said...

I'm very pleased that Whipping the Wind is back in action. But:
(1) How is it a sculpture? More like a light-installation.
(2) The best thing Sir Bob has ever said is with his fist when he punched that journo. Concerned about media and journalistic ethics 20 years before it was fashionable? Props.
(3) The comment in the recent letter to the Wellingtonian is correct; the refurbishment appears to have broken the original (quasi?)random pattern of the lights. Which is a shame.

At 11:32 am, July 12, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

(1) A lot of people, including wikipedia, use "sculpture" to refer to any three-dimensional artwork.

(2) Yep.

(3) I saw that, and yes, that's a pity. There was some sort of comment from the repair team about "ooh, you can't get the parts these days", but really, how hard is it to install some sort of programmable light controller?

At 1:35 pm, July 12, 2007, Blogger s. said...

(1) Whoops, what I was really getting at was: if it's a sculpture i.e. intrinsically 3D, is the work ("Whipping the Wind") the entire turret/cupola + lights? Was the turret pre-existing? Is the work really six rectangular 2D panels in an edge-to-edge hexagonal arrangement, which coincidentally happens to bound the turret on the north-west corner of Sybase House?

(3) You'd have to buy one off the shelf (what I presume you mean) or else get someone to program a micro-controller. I was thinking of offering.

At 1:41 pm, July 12, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

(1) I guess that any work/installation that isn't strictly a 2D image gets called a sculpture, and in this case since the neon is in layers I guess it's intrinsically 3D. And especially anything that moves or changes: I've heard of "kinetic sculpture", but never "kinetic" anything else.

(3) I was thinking about some of the stuff that Frey does, but if you're thinking of offering, go right ahead! Perhaps the lights could flash according to measured wind speed, or use Morse code to represent the comments feed from the Wellingtonista.

At 7:54 am, July 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

moving 2D image = lenticular ? like those old postcards of Jesus winking ?


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