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

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Urban spaces - outside Sweet Mother's KitchenI've been a bit quiet here, but a bit busy elsewhere around the blogosphere. Every now and then on Texture I get the chance to write about something other than cocktails, art, theatre and breakfast, and cover the sort of issues that I normally do here on WellUrban. The most recent example is this article about what makes good urban space, inspired by the upcoming IntensCITY week.

I've tried to make up for my slackness on the Wellingtonista (apart from participating in Wellingtonista drinking social activities, of course) by writing a quick introduction to this year's mayoral campaign. Someone's campaign seems to have got off on completely the wrong foot with one Wellingtonista "Gramma Nazi", though.

I should update my original article about the imaginary ArcHaus tower, but for the moment I've just left a quick note on SkyscraperCity to say that I've heard where this was intended to go: the car yard on the corner of Ghuznee and Leeds St. That's the sort of place where I'd imagine 5-6 storeys to be highly appropriate, but 18?!


At 11:03 pm, September 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, if things are a bit quiet and you need something to do between drinks, take a look at the distressing pseudo Victorian muck that been built on Aro street recently. This this really what the community and WCC urban designers really want? Sad. Oh for some decent contemporary houses.

At 11:19 am, September 02, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

It's been a few months since I was last there, but I know the sort of thing you're talking about.

"This this really what the community and WCC urban designers really want?"

I don't think that it's what anyone in particular wants. The sort of pseudo-historical tosh that gets built in "character" suburbs is usually a sad compromise between the desires of old residents, new residents, planners, heritage advocates, architects and developers, and it ends up pleasing no-one. Too often what the "community" (as if there were a single community in a place like Aro Valey) wants is for nothing to change: they've got their comfortable piece of town cornered, and they don't want anyone else moving in to spoil the "character" (which too often is a code word for "property values").

"Oh for some decent contemporary houses."

Exactly. I really quite like the John Mills-designed house in Epuni St, though I'd prefer more emphasis on multi-family housing. It is possible to build at medium densities in a contemporary style, retaining the essential qualities (scale, proportions, complexity and adaptability) of earlier eras without resorting to embarrassing pastiche. But so often, an unholy alliance of over-literal character rules, NIMBYism and cheapskate developers results in just that.


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