Yes, tonight is the night for the architectural community, as the local Wellington region Awards for Architecture and annual knees up are being held tonight. Last year the awards went to the New Dowse, the Masterton Police Station and the Greytown Town Hall, Holiday Inn, the new Maritime Tower, Len Lye’s water whirler, the waterfront refurbishment of Shed 13, and the highly deserved award for Conservation House (which went on to win a Supreme Award by the year’s end), as well as a swathe of awards for some very fine housing. Awards are being held in the very evocatively period Shed 13 tonight – lets hope that the owners have managed to install some toilet and kitchen facilities which are noticeably absent in this picture from last year!
While Eye of the Fish hasn’t been invited to participate in the awards, hopefully we can bring you an update soon after to confirm what are Wellington’s top architect-designed buildings for 2008. While there are lots of projects to consider this year, the global (and eventual Wellington) slow down will have a restrictive effect in years to come. Residential building consents have plummeted apparently, with commercial consents surely not far behind. Indeed, by this time next year there are likely to be a lot less architects in Wellington full stop, judging by shockwaves from the credit crunch echoing around the world. New York and London have been hit hard, with vast swathes of architects finding themselves out of work in recent weeks. There’s a lot of money being thrown into the vast vat of global sloshfunds, in an effort to make this whole credit crunch go away.
It would be nice to think that our government’s efforts to kickstart the economy with spending on “infrastructure” might include architectural works such as perhaps an extension to Te Papa by UN Studio, or more money for public housing, or even upgrading of Wellington’s tacky architectural commercial legacy, it’s more likely that any funds will just end up on the inevitable roading projects (read: Auckland motorways). While no doubt by this time next year we’ll know whether the crunch has bitten or been beaten, my personal hope is that the corporate crooks that got us all into this mess haven’t simply run off with the funds. When sums in the region of hundreds of Billions are being shovelled around, the sound of pigs with snouts in the trough is inevitable.
Anyway, enough of the doom and gloom for you lot tonight: eat, drink and be merry – enjoy the drinks and let us know who got the gongs.