Welcome back to work. We know that the construction industry winds down and goes to sleep for a while over the holidays, and so does the architectural world – but everyone seems to be back at work now and ready to go, praying for a better year than 2010. So: what is on your books for 2011 ?
We thought we could do a summary of what each architectural practice around town has coming up. You could even drop us some hints on what is coming up! Then again, we know that you’re all a notoriously uncommunicative bunch of architects, but please do tell us if you’ve got any hot snippets, and of course also tell us if we’ve got it wrong.
In the mean time – here’s a round up on projects completing, underway, or even just starting off, as there a couple of new cranes that have appeared over Christmas.
The big push around Wellington at the moment is of course the Housing Upgrade Project. A number of well-respected practices around town have got a project or two in there – with a total of about 20 WCC housing projects to upgrade, we’re guessing there is some work in there to last for a few years. Some of these are already underway, like the Central Park flats, or the housing near the Old Showgrounds, others have been completed already (such as Te Ara Hou in Newtown, refurbishment by Novak and Middleton Architects), and others still to start. Let us know if you have any images of your project you would like to share.
In terms of private housing projects, the big developer schemes seemed to have completely run out of puff last year, but there are signs of life starting to wake up the capital. Architecture Plus have been busy completing Republic and Republic 2, for Stratum Developments, and these are looking remarkably New York urban with their skin of real brickwork. Brickwork hasn’t been popular in Wellington for the last several decades, due to its problems standing up in seismic conditions, but the confident use of brick separated into seismically resistant panels is looking rather sophisticated. Is this heralding a new wave of construction for urban Wellington?
Despite the still collapsed property market, there are some signs of life in the developer market, with two Archaus schemes getting off the ground recently – and in the case of the Tattoo apartments, using prefabrication with concrete panels to largely complete over the summer. Very impressive indeed. Their other scheme is one half of the Te Aro Towers project, which will be another of those ‘investor’ Taranaki St housing projects.
Other developer housing projects have not being doing so well – there are large empty sites all over Wellington’s premier sea-side spots. One obvious one of these is the former Watermark site, which developer Land Equity Group was hoping to turn into an ultra-high quality housing development. According to stories in the paper, this dream is now over, and the last remaining building on the site is to be turned into an office building for Infratil. Architects for the project were not stated – but it will be good to see something go on the empty markets site at last. There were a lot of lower quality developer apartment schemes that went to the wall over the last couple of years, and to be honest – most of them will not be missed. There seems little point in building low quality housing – Wellington needs to think smarter, not just tackling the lower end of the market.
And then of course there is the redevelopment of the Overseas Passenger Terminal into a series of apartments, by developer Willis Bond and Athfield Architects. This is a curious project – now called Clyde Quay Wharf – it looks vaguely reminiscent of the former Calder Styles and Fowler designed cruise-liner building, but without Passengers, nor any Terminal, and not much to do with any Overseas either. But the shape is still fairly reminiscent of the current building, although, as those that protest against it are saying, it is actually quite a bit larger – both taller and wider. The debate over whether this is an appropriate scheme to develop the OPT into happened many years ago now, with most people being fairly unconcerned, although a small group of activists is still protesting that it is the wrong sort of scheme for one of Wellington’s most exciting sites. There’s a legitimate and still niggling concern that really, this should be a site for a much needed mooring site for ocean liners. An Overseas Passenger Terminal – what a great idea!