The Eye of the Fish

May 7, 2010

Thai me down

I went past the old Thorndon Tavern last week, which is starting to be transformed into the new Thai embassy. To my delight, the old accretions of the former pub had been stripped away, and the bare concrete skeleton exposed. While the concrete frame of the building is amazing – only 4 massive columns, with 4 massive beams, brilliantly designed by Colin Gunter at NZ Breweries, and each floor an exposed grid of concrete waffle slab that spans from side to side and cantilevers daringly out – the bit that captivated me was the stair. The bulldozers had been in and cleared away the vegetation out the front, leaving the dynamic design of the stair looking for all the world like the magnificent rocket ship of the future that it is, still firmly pointed skyward, alone and proud.

It is the best staircase in Wellington – and how proud I was that the designers, who ever they are, had chosen to leave the stair there, clearly as a feature in which to play a central part of the design for the new Thai embassy. So, I scootled back there yesterday to take some photos – and, alas, alack, caloo, calaay, oh unhappy day – they’ve knocked the bugger off.

There is now, no stair. A big pile of rubble, to be sure, but unless they have sawn it off at the trunk and spirited it away to staircase heaven, that particular stair is no more. It has shuffled off this mortal coil, gone to join the choir invisible. It is an ex-stair.

And I’m really sad to see it gone.

And I don’t have a decent photo of the stair. Update: But I do now – many thanks to regular contributor M-D who has sent in these 3 great B+W images. Thanks M-D ! It is now just the images that are left….

RIP Stair…

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7 - 05 - 10

Thanks to M-D who sent these great photos in.

I’m just really hacked off that this has been demolished, and it was never given a chance to be decently recorded. What was it like on the inside? Anyone ever go in it when it was being used as the Tav?

Starkive? You’d have been a regular, no? 60mPa? Did you pour the concrete on this one? Let us know….

60 MPa
8 - 05 - 10

No dice here little fishies – pouring the concrete on this one was before my time

8 - 05 - 10

I don’t think I poured much there either. I was more often at the Cricketer’s Arms. This spasm of demolition makes me all the more anxious for my favourite Tory St Temple of Brutalism. A Facebook group perhaps?

10 - 05 - 10

very sad, one of my favourite pieces of concrete …

Jez Weston
13 - 05 - 10

I wander past that every day, and I’m not sad to see it gone. I’ve a fundamental complaint about Brutalism – it’s brutal. If I wanted brutality, I’d join the army, I don’t want it when I’m walking down the street.

14 - 05 - 10

Lovely witty comment, but fundamentally wrong. The Thorndon Tavern could never be branded as an example of brutalism – but yes, it was looking seriously run down. Stripped back to its new skeleton, its looking very space age. And not brutal in the slightest.

I’ve no idea what they are going to put on it to make it into an Embassy, but fingers crossed they have some good designers on the job.

21 - 05 - 10

any ideas how many stories that those columns could take? I’m thinking despite being waffled, those floor slabs must weigh a bit, so perhaps the new building will remain three storied?