Tory Street, named after a settler ship bringing population to Poneke, has for many years been a skinny urban backwater. The road is too narrow to work as a fast route for four-wheeled commuters, but this results in a nice walkable street, certainly less windy than Taranaki. It is populated by small, quirky businesses set in small, quirky buildings: the Mall drycleaners, the Hawthorn Lounge, the Tory Urban Retreat and Moore Wilson‘s. Big businesses and big buildings are largely unknown, the exception being Telecom’s stumpy tower blocks near Courtenay Place.
However change is in the air – as well as a perplexing plethora of fly away roofs.
Like a scene from a Dickens novel, it is as if an infestation of butterflies has settling over the area; the buildings delicately crossing overhead. Starting from V roof of the humble poster site and repeated with Athfield’s quirky home for Moore Wilson’s nearby, the soaring roof theme iscontinued with vigour by the less-than-vigorous Galleria apartments.
This theme again emerges in Roger Walker‘s designs atop Lone Star, and are being taken to a culminating conclusion with his designs for the final stage of Terry Seripisos‘s Century City development. The thin angular frame of the steelwork contrasts with the wavy roofline to the south, which is tied in with a similarly oscillating skyline of an earlier Century City stage. Think what you like about the architecture, at least you can’t accuse Walker of having a boring roofscape.
Meanwhile Ian Cassels has bought the telecom site, hoping to revitalise the blocks with a sustainable mixed-use development. Judging from his previous project – the employment Architecture+ to create an award winning home for DoC – there is certainly some great potential for this new development. Perhaps even with some architecture that is more substantial than just a wild and wacky roof.