Archive for February 4th, 2009

Building with a zero height: Great idea or Waterfront Ridiculous-ness?

Early December 2008 the Wellington City Council examined draft documents for Variation 11 (the long title being: District Plan Variation 11: Amendments to Proposed District Plan Change 48 (Central Area Review) – Wellington Waterfront.)

The relevant documents are: Report 1, Appendix 1, The Section 32 Report, and Attachment 1

At the time of the meeting Lindsay Shelton wrote an article available on Scoop suggesting inappropriate council behaviour such as: council officers approving buildings, the public being un-notified, and the outlawing of coffee (just joking about the coffee!).

Anyway, some day soon this should all become official for public consultation, and theoretically we’ll have 2 months or so to think about what the Arch Centre position is on all this. The documents are in part a reaction to the Hilton decision. As the council notes “the Environment Court did not question the existing waterfront Framework … but questioned the method of incorporation and reference in the District Plan.”

The Variation also includes changing the “strict regime … requiring all new building development and the development of open space to be assessed as Discretionary Activities (Unrestricted). This was to ensure that no development would occur on the waterfront without the opportunity for public involvement.” Currently, the main mechanism to ensure all projects are notified is the imposition of a zero height limit. The new proposal is “a new Discretionary (Restricted) rule with associated development standards and a design guide.”

Another key issue is the use of the idea of “design excellence,” borrowed from the existing Central Area under Plan Change 48 to allow over-height buildings. Wellington isn’t over-burdened with “design excellence” oozing from its built environment so you’d think on the surface that this was a good idea.

Oozing with Design Excellence?

Oozing with Design Excellence?

But what is “design excellence” and who decides? and are these people appropriately qualified in these matters? A nice idea but a dangerous one? And isn’t it an oxymoron (I love that word) to have a Maximum Height Limit plus 15% – what was that definition of “maximum”?

What are your opinions re: this? As usual the sub-committee drafting the submission won’t include anyone involved in related (i.e. Waterfront in this case) projects, nor those working in any firms involved in such work. But we will consider ideas discussed on this blog, which no doubt will be varied and possibly contradictory. Any members keen on being involved please email Kate or Christine.

Posted on 4th February 2009
Under: RANTING, SUBMISSIONS | 7 Comments »

A Bit of Culture Never Hurt Anyone?

Waitangi Day is our country’s most important architectural space. Time, space and performance translate into drama, politics, and good kai, and this weekend there are numerous ways to enjoy our nation’s peculiar cultural identities.

Going to the beach, mowing the lawn, and shopping are all solid staple holiday fare – but why not go the extra mile and make sure you add a bit of New Zealandness to this year’s Waitangi Day?

Really the Arch Centre should organise a trip to Waitangi, and I’m certainly keen for one next year. Any takers? But this year around Wellington you can check out a couple of open marae (Orongomai Marae, Upper Hutt; Whakarongotai Marae, Waikanae), visit Te Whiti Park, Lower Hutt (Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui), go to concerts at Waitangi Park (thanks to the efforts of the Tenth Trust), or even take a boat tour to Motungangara Island.

Have a fun time, hang up a flag or two, and make Waitangi Day more than 5 minutes on the evening news.

Posted on 4th February 2009
Under: EVENTS OTHER | 1 Comment »

The Women’s Weekly is our Friend!

Ok so it’s only the Word Search puzzle – but it’s good to know that architecture gets even a small lookin in our popular press.  The puzzle is below and the words to find are: arch, casement, cornice, cross-beam, design, domed, facade, garret, girders, grouting, louvre window, newel, obelisk, partition, paving, posts, renovation, roof, sash, scaffold, skirting board, skyscraper, step, stonework, transom.

So thanks WW for increasing our architectural vocab.  Everyone needs a newel or two in their sentences.  But here’s the Architectural Centre challenge for the word find – how many can you find which are not on the WW list, especially those with architectural potential yet to be defined?

Posted on 4th February 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

Video of the Week III: Pimp My Model

For those of us that remember our student days, or who still require the services of ‘X-Acto’ today, here’s a idea to help give that extra ‘bling’ to your design…

Here’s the link to the youtube page if the above video misbehaves…

It’s easy to see how the Harvard University Graduate School of Design gets such a prestigious reputation.

Note: I suspect that this is one tv show concept that won’t be picked up – not even by MTV


Posted on 4th February 2009
Under: Video of the Week | 1 Comment »