Urban Nooks and Crannies – Nominations Please

— Closing date for nominations now 28th September. Keep them coming in the comments! —

The Architectural Centre is pleased to announce its next ‘best and worst’ competition – Wellington’s Best and Worst Urban Nooks and Crannies.

Back in ’07, Arch Centre ran a similar competition, pulling specific buildings into the spotlight. The Dominion Post published the lists, and ensuing public debate was lively and altogether healthy! WellUrban have a good record of some of the discussion of the worst list, and also the best list. This year, we thought we’d focus on Wellington’s urban environment and hunt for notable ‘nooks and crannies’ around the city, be they comfortable, joyful, forgotten and/or hideous.

Nominations now close Friday 28th September and we intend to put the list to a public vote at a lecture event as there must be winners and losers, after all. Here are a few examples, to get the ball rolling…

Albiet temporary, this is a great public space from the father of nooks and crannies. Defiantly enjoyed by young visitors.

A shrine to the motorcar; to be avoided if on foot.

Nominations Please!! Describe your nomination/s in comments below, and photos are very welcome at arch@architecture.org.nz .


25 responses to “Urban Nooks and Crannies – Nominations Please”

  1. Best – The leftover spaces under Option A (according to NZTA)
    Worst – The leftover spaces under Option A (according to everyone else)

  2. Best nook – used to be the Cable Car lane. I loved that spot. But now, sadly screwed up, so I’ll nominate that for the Worst cranny instead.
    The Best, therefore might have to be the nooks around the Port Nic marina. Wonderfully quiet little places there, at each end.

  3. I used to like Chews Lane before it was gentrified – but not sure if it is nooky or cranny enough now, and Grafitti Lane – though that’s closed off now. Perhaps they are the worst as their nooky/cranny-nesses are now deprived ones? I quite like the dodgy spaces around the back of St James carpark, and of course under the circular ramp.

  4. Best – On the south-eastern corner of the Freyburg building, there’s a small opening around the steps down to the carpark – gives a welcome blast of steam to walk through on a cold morning.

    Worst – The Grand Arcade (Willis St) and Lambton Square. The Arcade-off-the-street concept may not be fundamentally flawed but these examples definitely need some work!

  5. What’s the difference between a Nook and a Cranny? There’s a whole other question to be discussed there.
    Nook: noun
    1. a corner, as in a room.
    2. any secluded or obscure corner.
    3. any small recess: a breakfast nook.
    4. any remote or sheltered spot: a shady nook that was ideal for a picnic.

    1. a small, narrow opening in a wall, rock, etc.; chink; crevice; fissure: They searched every nook and cranny for the missing ring.
    2. a small out-of-the-way place or obscure corner; nook.

    So a Cranny is a Nook, but a Nook is not necessarily a Cranny…

    Anyway – I think my favourite nook is the one next to the Frederick St Cafe. Two delighful little buildings, and a place in between that is just the right size for a picnic.

    In terms of my least favourite nook, then it has to be one of those places where you feel ill-at-ease and uncomfortable. Scared that someone is goig to jump out and attack you. The most obvious example of this is Opera House Lane, currently… a really, really dodgy place. The Council are quite keen to make that a hip and happening funky place, but I dunno… its got dodgy bones…

  6. oooh, and I nearly forgot – one of the most popular nooks in Wellington has been the little recesses in the City to Sea overbridge… completely defendable, very much in the public view, and yet also tiny and private. Very nookish…

  7. Best – that little nook in the western side of Freyberg Pool is a great little senaky place, or maybe the cut out by Te Papa?

  8. Best – I’d say Tokyo Lane
    Worst – the top or Woodward St

  9. Petit dejeuner Avatar
    Petit dejeuner

    the top of Woodward St one of the worst? To me it is one of the best! I love the way that there is a little sneaky underpass, that only the locals really know about….

  10. Edward Street is a good example of a nook. It’s a great spot to escape the lunchtime craze, or hang out with a chilled beverage on a summers day, when the sun penetrates the space.

    Worst-the tight, narrow streets along Willis and Lambton key at peak hours.Claustrophobia inducing.

  11. hmmm… I’ve always liked the outdoor lower level of old bank arcade – good for an escape from the peak times on lambton quay! In a similar vein, the pontoon under the taranaki wharf bridge – away from the maddening crowds of waterfront punters on a super sunny day. Worst? Wellington civic building entries – e.g. Te Papa forecourt and the cavernous bit between the library and council buildings. Also the interesting sculpture bit at the end of te aro park that is sadly used as one giant urinal.

  12. Also, the bit between the kumutoto toilets is a GREAT cranny, if you don’t knock your head on the metal fin bits…
    Agree re: option A left over bits being the worst of the worst, but there is that one connection from Karo Drive to Kelvin Grove which is oddly nice in a sea of horridness.

  13. I quite like the graving dock at Waitangi Park, wet feet aside and the Oriental Bay slipway

  14. There are lots of little spaces around the edges of Civic Sq, weaving throughout spaces aroung the library, the gallery and Nikau – these are mostly all good nooks – though I would agree with monday about that space between the library and the council building as not working terribly well.

  15. Without a doubt, to me the best nooks and crannies are the ones to the perimeter of the Oriental Bay Marina. There’s the little rusty slipway down the east end – a fantastic urban encounter with live industrial workplaces – and the little sneaky glimpses into the depths of the boat sheds – and the lovely quiet spots for a picnic under the pohutukawa trees.
    Re the worst? To me: the long walk down the Aotea Quay and Jervois Quay absolutely Needs some nooks and crannies, to hide away from that incessant wind. Nooks are, it seems to me, an important part of the city. A city without nooks and crannies is a dull and boring city…

  16. Yes I like Opera House lane too, and the walkway from Willis to Victoria St by Unity Books

  17. The Mount Street Cemetery beside Vic Uni. What a gorgeous and underrated wee gem, green space, views & a contemplative area, in the middle of our city!

  18. Some of the best wellington areas would have to be:
    – the island on the customhouse quay/grey street junction (with the red telephone booth).
    – Chews Lane: This whole street feels like an exclusive little nook, with great architecture and protection from the wind
    – That hidden coffee shop right next to the wellington museum (with access to it from the walkway that surrounds the library, with the palm trees.)

  19. Clyde Bennett Avatar
    Clyde Bennett

    My nomination for the WORST nook and cranny in Wellington is MASON’S LANE.

    The bottom part just off Lambton Quay is dreary, dull and often scented with the fragrance of cigarette smoke from the Bus drivers that sit outside the café during what is literally their “smoko”. As you proceed up the concrete steps towards the Terrace, things get even more dire with the grey patchwork quilt of old concrete walls, peeling poster bills and graffiti merging with the steep concrete steps liberally dosed with piles of pigeon poo.

    For decades Mason’s lane has oozed what I hope is just water seeping out from under the Terrace through cracks and joints in the concrete retaining wall. This mixes with the pigeon poo to create a damp, slippery and occasionally pungent atmosphere which when added to the steep upward climb of the steps is unimaginably depressing.

    On a good day, you might be greeted by the sweet smell of “ganja” being smoked by the students of the neighboring training facility, as they take their lunch break on the steps out of sight of prying eyes walking past on Lambton Quay.

    On a bad day, the waft of stale urine, deposited by some late night bar-fly on a short cut home, fills the nostrils as water dripping in slow motion from the overhead concrete, drops down the back of your neck.

    Sick though it may seem, Mason’s Lane is a nook and cranny that keeps drawing you back to its unhallowed walls. The only thing necessary to truly transform Mason’s Lane into a Gothic Nightmare would be for someone to kick in a few more lights and carve gargoyles on its weeping walls.

  20. Two or three things – that don’t usually occur to the “tourist” – the unforgotten yet remembered spaces…
    1. All the unheralded Maori places – Te Aro Pa, Te aroaro kupe, south coast pa sites, gardens and cultured places of the civilization that came before.
    2. As per the book “Wellington a city for sculpture” – the site of the seminal “Vacant lot of cabbages” art work by Barry Thomas 1978 – corner of Manners and Willis street – about to be purchased by Te Papa. See also current academic citing of the cabbage patch as antecedent to all the urban art of Letting Space, one day sculpture, guerrilla gardening, yarn bombing… everywhere. http://bat-bean-beam.blogspot.co.nz/2011/10/occupy-wellington.html and google “event specifc art” MA thesis Davidson Massey university.

  21. Best Wgtn space: the waterfront between Railway Station & Oriental Parade.
    Worst: town houses on south coast.

  22. One of my most favoured spots around Wellington is the rock garden, sunny and sheltered, little meandering paths to the water, sturdy log seats and great cityscape views of the lagoon with the harbour in the background joined by a bridge, two waters one tranquil the other often choppy.
    Where is this place? next to the historic building housing the Star Boating Club. I have spent many happy hours here watching my grandchildren rowing. out from the lagoon under the bridge to the sea.

  23. Also good is: the pedestrian forecourt at Moore Wilsons ground floor level. but the weird vehicle entry to the military cadets place on Buckle st is Horrible.

  24. Barry Worthington Avatar
    Barry Worthington

    I have to say that I am very partial to the little bit of underground space in the Bank Arcade. There is a spot where you can see the fragments of the old ship “Inconstant” (which is a pretty ironic name if you think it has been sat still for the last 150 odd years…).
    I’m also exceptionally keen on the spaces inside the Old St Pauls church – splendid timber work, just amazing.

    By contrast, one of my pet peeves is the silly spaces and uncomfortable seating in Te Aro Park. That used to be a great place to sit. Now: not so much… Bad nook! Bad Crannie!

  25. Thanks for all the thoughtful nominations! Great stuff. Nominations now closed:

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