The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
July 10, 2010

Apartments Dead

As the song went, “there’s a fine, fine line between pleasure and pain”. And so it is with the apartment market in Wellington, and my compulsion to write on this blog. One minute it seems like its not worth continuing with the blog as nothing much is happening on the Wellington construction scene, and the next minute – oh my god, they’re reporting about possibly tearing down the Event Centre, about apartment projects going phut, about Soso Apartments causing the death of the entire apartment scene in Wellington, the end of the Parade Cafe, the luxurious Pet Palace costing pussy an arm and a leg, and many more.

Where to start? Well for a start – who sang that song? I thought it was Pat Benatar, but Google says it was the Divinyls. Hmmm. Correct me if I’m wrong.


I’m intrigued that the Sodo, Soso, So HoHo apartments, that I dislike so much, are apparently full of people, because they look so empty. So much so that when a resident / visitor tragically falls to his death this week, nothing was heard because of the sound of loud parties. At Eye of the Fish towers we had always slagged off the Sodo because of its rubber-stamped, copy cat design, and I thought that their tiny rooms might prove to be slummish, but I hadn’t counted on inhabitants tragically diving / falling off the tiny triangular decks. Some quotes from the paper are revealing:

“There was a lot of yelling, you could hear a woman screaming and crying, trying to stop something. It was really loud,” she said. “I thought it was just drunk people so I didn’t bother to look. The building is secure but it’s still freaky, we’ve only been living here two days.”

Jo spoke to the man while he was on his balcony on Saturday, when three people moved into the two-bedroom apartment. … It sounded as if there had been a party in a lower-level apartment on Saturday night, but there were often parties in the building, he said.

There had been a very rowdy and drunken party on the first floor on Saturday night. “Normally this is a really nice place to live,” she said.”


I am sort of amazed because it doesn’t look to be even remotely full yet, with lights in most apartments not on yet, and very little sign of life. It’s a fairly poor design, good for the developer Conrad as it is an almost exact copy of the building that Leushke did in Auckland (see pic above), but doing nothing for the Wellington apartment scene – except, apparently, destroy value in other apartment buildings. Each flat is set into a wall of tiny apartments, one of about 70 apartments, facing a mirror image of another 70 – all up, facing noise and parties from around 140 potential flats at once. So, with 326 apartments in the building, some set close enough to each other that it feels as if opposing apartment dwellers could almost shake hands across the gap, its no wonder that noise from the neighbouring apartments can pervade the entire space. I have a feeling that the reputation of this building will only continue to go down.

Its therefore not much real surprise either that Conrad developers have “moth-balled” or “shelved plans” for their other two proposed Wellington apartment buildings. Although the Victoria development never really got past a couple of visuals, not even making it to the marketing stage, it was a scheme that had some promise. Four separate towers, clustered around a possible courtyard, I think by arch super-group ArcHaus, I suspect that it was being developed as a potential for the University student market, since stymied by them doing their own, better, Te Puni thing.

Of the second “stalled” development, I went into the proposed iLoft show home once, but left pretty promptly in sadness and disgust at the poor design. The developer’s black Mercedes outside probably had a garage space bigger than the floorplan of the iLoft apartments. Buildings planned as office buildings rarely work so well as apartments – which is a problem currently afflicting the wider Wellington apartment scene. But you won’t find much info online – the developer has pulled all his websites down, and almost no information is left online. I left without picking up an info pack – feel free to email us some scans if you have any decent plans or pricing on what it was going for. Luckily, because we’ve covered some of these things, you can read a bit more about the iLoft here, and the Victoria thing somewhere too. If anyone can find a link to that one as well, drop us a line – it has also mysteriously vanished.

That’s enough for today – and I haven’t even got on to the Parade or the Events Centre. I’m keen to find out what is being planned for the Parade – one of my favourite cafes (by the beach, so when the Fish takes to the land, its the perfect place to refuel with luscious cakes…). And I’m really keen to hear some more about secret masterplans for the Events Centre! I think that many would say – if you’re considering tearing down one side (ie, the TSB Arena) then don’t forget to tear down the other side as well! (oops, Shell’s offices…). Again, if you have info on these you want to share, feel free to email them into us, which is simply: contact@eyeofthefish.org

60 MPa
10 - 07 - 10

Definitely the Divynls but the lead singer had a Benataresque vamp schtick going on so it’d be easy to get confused – I’m still depressed that Joan Jett bats for the other team but that’s another story.

Which development site was the Victoria one? The series of blocks on the vege market site?

Maximus
11 - 07 - 10

Yep, that’s the one. Four separate tower blocks with a courtyard in the middle. It’s now gone so thoroughly that it has even been removed from ArcHaus website, which is unusual, as they leave all sorts of random deleted projects up there.

Maybe it is on WellUrban’s website? I’ll go trawl….

Maximus
11 - 07 - 10

Oh, and re Joan Jett – it’s the leather pants that should be the giveaway. Seriously 60, apart from in those dreams of yours, have you ever met a woman wearing leather pants who was straight?

tomek
11 - 07 - 10

The Parade is moving to the old Tug Boat. It will be bigger, better, faster, more on water! Can you sing “I’m on a boat! I’m on a mutha@#$% boat!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7yfISlGLNU)

-t

Maximus
11 - 07 - 10

Amazing Tomek, thanks for that. Predictably, I like the mermaid. But what’s up with T-Pain’s voice? He should go see a doctor…

Maximus
11 - 07 - 10

Aaah yes, the review of Victoria Quarter on the WellUrban site is still there – which is good, as it has some pics that have been removed for all time from the other developers sites.
http://wellurban.blogspot.com/2007/11/building-rumours-20-victoria-quarter.html

Wellurban notes: “…it could be one of the biggest developments, residential or otherwise, to hit Wellington in a long time….. At ten or eleven storeys, it could seem rather massive, but in this context the height might not be inappropriate, given the taller Unicomm building to the north and the relatively wide streets around it. It could be seen more as a bookend to the high city stretching up Willis and Victoria streets than as an intrusion into the low city proper, which tends to be further to the south and east. It’s also designed as a cluster of different buildings, with the southwest and southeast corners marked by colour and curves respectively, and each of the individual buildings has a reasonably deep and varied fašade. While it’s a lot of construction to happen all in one go, all of the above features mean that it will end up looking less like a monolith and more like a city block that has evolved over time.”

davidp
11 - 07 - 10

What I don’t get about Soho is why they’ve recessed the apartments to minimise the sunlight they get. I could understand this being a selling point in Singapore or Townsville. But Wellington? Anyway it sounds like a grim place to live unless you’re a fan of boozy parties every weekend. You missed quoting the report in the paper that someone was pouring beer off a balcony on to passers by. Yuk!

The first time I took a good hard look at the motherf***in boat was a clip on YouTube where a couple of friends-of-a-friend did their own version standing in an old bath in the middle of a field. Very odd!

Alan
12 - 07 - 10

Yes, I don’t think that the apartment dwellers of NZ have quite understood the rules yet. Europeans (ie those in Europe) seem to clearly understand that you don’t / shouldn’t throw things off balconies. Judging by the amount of glass on the footpaths outside some of the grottier places in Wellington, it seems that throwing the whole glass as well as the beer is quite frequent – which is just not on. If you actually manage to scone someone with a glass off a 10 storey building, it’ll probably result in an attempted murder charge.

But at least we’re not as bad as the nutty Hong Kong version, where people push entire sofas, TVs, etc off their balcony, to fall up to 40 stories…. there’s a few deaths a year in HK over that sort of thing.

davidp
12 - 07 - 10

Alan… I lived in Italy for a while. A colleague said that there was a new year’s tradition that you throw all your old stuff out the window and start the new year afresh. He explained how that was okay back in the old days when people lived in farm houses, but was lethal now that lots of people live in apartments. He also added that his father was a traditionalist who liked throwing things out, but would reconsider in the morning and go around outside picking everything back up again.

I was never sure if he was taking the piss or not.

Maximus
12 - 07 - 10

davidp – but presumably your colleague’s father lived in a charming old 2-4 storey tenement flat, rather than a 17 storey tower block like the Sodo ? Terminal Velocity and all that, as well as (possibly) smaller sofas…

There’s a fantastic video link on a small apartment in Hong Kong on the Arch Centre website just now – worth watching all the way through…
http://architecture.org.nz/2010/07/11/shape-shifting-interior/

davidp
12 - 07 - 10

The Hong Kong apartment is all very well Max. But what if you lose one of you rooms? It’d be a bit rough if you got back from a hard day at the movie studio where you played the evil foreign bad guy in a kung fu film, and couldn’t remember where abouts you folded your bed away.

60 MPa
12 - 07 - 10

I bow to your superior experience, Max, though I don’t meet too many women who wear leather pants at all – I guess you go to Hummingbird more often.

One thing I can vouch for is that the nursing profession is predominantly sociopathic – they’d biff a three piece suite off a balcony as soon as blink, that lot.

Maximus
13 - 07 - 10

But hopefully not with you still on it ? Aren’t they meant to be the gentle, caring profession?

Maximus
13 - 07 - 10

Davidp – I can see that becoming a feature on the next Jacky Chan film, where the room becomes an active part of the fight scene, as he folds various villains away into storage racks, and new villains come bursting out of the joinery as he goes to watch TV or make toast….

tim
14 - 07 - 10

When things disappear from websites two options worth trying are:
google cached version (just below the normal link in google search results)

or the wayback machine:
http://www.archive.org/

is this the project: Inner City Residential Concept?
http://web.archive.org/web/20080402215115/www.archaus.co.nz/projects/project.php?pid=38