The Eye of the Fish

March 5, 2011

Canterbury calls up Maximus

I saw the headline and I was packed and ready, to answer the call of the nation. Normally they just send up the Fish signal, much like the Bat symbol, but this is the first time my moniker has made it to the front page of the DomPost.

Had my site boots, hi-vi and my hard hard ready for action too, until I saw that they wanted someone else instead. Not me at all – who would have thought two folk would have the same name?! Yes, they want the other one – the bloke with the sandles, brass vest and the short stabby thing. Sigh. Not the Fish with a nice scaly cloak and a fine pair of flippers.

There is, it seems, no call out yet for Architects, although they’ll take all the Engineers they can find.

Have you tried to get your engineer on the phone recently? They’re all down south, stickering the ruins of Christchurch with a traffic light ream of photocopy paper – Green for “Go“, Yellow for “Hold on A Bit“, and Red for “Stop – don’t move, it could land on top of you“. At least, I think that those are the official designations.

I’m thinking that perhaps NZ could also deploy a phalanx of architects, stickering buildings with an alternative array of coloured paper. How about a vibrant Lilac for “This has heritage worth holding onto“, a mid-range Beige for “Not a bad effort, it’ll do for now, and it’s still standing, so we may as well keep it“, and then a really deep blacky-brown poo colour for “This building has always been ugly, let’s take the chance to knock it down now while no one is looking“.

I must confess, this is just a version of an idea put out by Wellington’s old school architectural commenters, The Architectural Centre, who published a Manifesto a few years ago with a number of very valid points. The one I really liked was something like Bad Buildings must be Eliminated. The danger that Christchurch is going to have in the near future, if Bomber Brownlee has his way with his demolition crews, is that Christchurch may be left with a plethora of painfully dull and bland buildings. Many of the nice modern ones have bit the dust as well, although there’s no doubt the ugly crap of the world, like Harvey Norman sheds, will have survived unscathed. But is that what we want the city to look like after this quakey time? Does Christchurch really want to become one vast suburban mall? Only they can answer that.

Maybe we need another colour coding as well, by the Citizens of Christchurch themselves, using that universally understood colour range of the lovelorn – Pink for “I love this building“, Yellow for “Tie a ribbon round it, we’ll keep to Memories” and perhaps Blue for “Blue sky thinking needed here – you guys really need to raise your game“. They’re the ones who really know their buildings.

Canterbury: feel free to put this into action when the cordon is raised.

6 - 03 - 11

There is a billboard ad for architects on the side of Latinos on the corner of Tory and Vivian Streets. It is, which at first I mistook for a campaign to promote talking to anarchists. Then I realised it was a far less cool version of Ask a Ninja.

But… The building it is on is one of the ugliest in Wellington. If Latinos was designed by an architect then that architect was Albert Speer. And it was probably built by the Todt Organisation using Polish slave labourers and some concrete left over from the Atlantic Wall. If I talked to an architect then I’d tell them that their billboard is a clear fail.

I’d like to propose that Peter Dunne maintain a list of Wellington buildings that it’d be illegal to seismically strengthen under any circumstances. Latinos would be on the list, along with the giant ugly Post Office headquarters, the Beehive, the hideously painted apartments in Courtenay Place, and any apartments built over a multi-story carpark or a branch of Harvey Normans.

7 - 03 - 11

Agh! It’s deja vu all over again.

I’m sure I can recall springing to the defence of the Cricketer’s Arms (aka Latinos) a couple of years ago on this very site. Quite apart from its evident seismic strengthiness, it has a rugged handsomeness which is hard to beat in my opinion. Aside from the addition of a lamentable lift shaft which interrupted its jutting jawline, it is the closest thing in this town to the rugged good looks of New York’s finest, the Whitney Museum of American Art.

It’s a shame that this attempt at reinventing and reviving Wellington’s tradition of corner-site pubs was the end of the line for brewery brutalism.

7 - 03 - 11

Starkive – as Davidp has indicated before that he is domiciled somewhere near this corner, perhaps he has become a little too intimately connected to the, shall we say, “not all together universally agreed” attributes of the Cricketers Arms. I’m sure that you too have rugged good looks and a jutting jawline – but I’m not so sure about the Cricketers. It does seem flawed to me – not the best of Gunthers work. Speaking of which, have you seen the Thorndon Tavern lately?
We’ll post on that later. First up though – did I hear a rumour that you have new chairs in the Archive? If true: fantastic! That sounds great….

7 - 03 - 11

Starkive… I don’t see much similarity between Latinos/Cricketers and the Whitney Museum. The Whitney doesn’t have concrete flaking off it, for instance. And there hasn’t been an SUV with a broken rear window parked outside the Whitney every day for the last year making it look like vandalism central. On the other hand I do see a strong resemblance between your brutal bar and this building:

7 - 03 - 11

Ummm, so, what about the idea of architects flagging buildings? Any traction on that one?

60 MPa
7 - 03 - 11

Oh stop being mean to starkive – has anyone noticed how much the building in question looks similar to a certain archive?

At any rate Max, some enterprising individual by the name of Luke Howlison has put all of the shaky buildings onto a map for your perusal at

Spotted on Kiwiblog

7 - 03 - 11

Max>Ummm, so, what about the idea of architects flagging buildings? Any traction on that one?

I assume that structural strength is an engineering issue rather than an architectural one. I haven’t decided whether gladiators should be making buildings decisions, but I’m definitely opposed to Russell Crowe having any say on building safety.

60 MPa>has anyone noticed how much the building in question looks similar to a certain archive?

I have no idea what archive you’re talking about. Is it the same one with the new chairs?