At the Architecture Centre we feel it is time to ask some questions. The rumblings from our city have been going on for some time – the big question is : what IS going on at the Wellington City Council with regards to the Urban Design and Planning of the capital city?
Arch Centre has a long history in this respect. In fact, Arch Centre has been commenting on Wellington’s Urban Design even before Wellington had a Town Planning department. We still have active members who remember what used to happen, or not happen, and the Town Planning and Urban Design of Wellington was one of the prime reasons that Arch Centre even came into existence on. Sixty to seventy years ago, Wellington had a slum problem. Te Aro flat in particular was a suburb of drink, drugs, destitution, and prostitution, in a mix of bad buildings. Nowadays, of course, nothing much has changed…. except new buildings for old. But our concern for Urban Design continues. We campaigned on it back then, we have even run Council candidates in the past, so we feel that we have an absolute right to ask as highly concerned Wellingtonians, about just what is happening to the Urban Design Team at Wellington City Council.
We’ve been watching and waiting in the sidelines for some explanations of what the ‘Team’ is doing. Wellington used to have a very strong Urban Design Team, up until about 10 years ago. Rumour has it, our Urban unit was even the envy of Auckland. We had strong urban reviewing capabilities, with architects and urban designers working in the team and all extremely knowledgeable about the history of Wellington. But things have been changing a lot since then, and there has been a gradual and steady loss of institutional and intellectual knowledge. There are still some fantastic dedicated souls there. But many others have left, or been forced to leave.
Although we don’t have figures to hand, there have been a number of restructurings at WCC’s Urban Group over the last few years, reaching way back before the current lot of managers. Is it five restructurings Read the rest of this entry »