(Updated – see more info at end of post). In a recent news story on The Post, which may not have appeared on the Stuff, there was an article on a proposed new building on Customhouse Quay in Wellington. You may (or may not) have seen it, as Post seems to be splitting / abandoning Stuff, as their two websites now become very different beasts – Stuff mainly as a repository for Spam and ClickBait, while Post appears to be actually still trying to be a quality news site. More on that particular conundrum later, perhaps, but in the mean time: ah yes, the Building.
I’m sure that you have seen it – although maybe not yet read about it – but as yet no one has commented about it, at least as so far as i have been able to read the Letters to the Editor. So we will, of course, because that is what the Eye of the Fish is here for. Two things immediately stand out to me, in this gloriously painterly-looking picture supplied by Jasmax to the Post, both of them things that I thought would have garnered more attention. Surely this / these have struck you too? What are these two things?
Oh come on, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Firstly, what on earth is happening with the facade, which appears to be stripey in a manner which baffles all understanding. The glazing appears to be like a giant six-pack of very slender wine flutes, depicted in brown and white packaging, a sort of party-pack celebration that they have been able to get away with the second standout point – something that will in effect allow them to literally get away with murder – it’s taller than everything else around it. And these two points are well worthy of discussion.
Of the first point, I have, literally, and figuratively, absolutely not a clue about how this is proposed to be done, or also why you would want to do that. First things first – is this a trick of the light, caused by a slight flexing of the glazing, or is this a different coloured glass? Is this visible from inside, or just only visible from outside? Is this to do with the structure behind the facade, seeing as Jasmax have recently used Dunning Thornton to craft the diagrid on their new Newcrest development currently nearing completion just a few doors to the right, and indeed, who are the engineers, seeing as the story on the Post did not mention that? And now, of course, because I am at a different computer where I cannot read the Post without paying, I can’t see a thing. Hmmm.
The second point, that I imagine must have been the subject of endless debate with Wellington City Council, is that all the other buildings nearby are, almost without doubt, 12-14 storeys tall. And yet this one is 18 storeys, reaching therefore up to about 72m or thereabouts. And yet, nobody that I know of is jumping up and down about this. Is this because I’m just not listening in the right places? Or is nobody shouting? Have Waterfront Watch, the bane of our lives for the last two or three decades, simply thrown in the towel and gone home? Or have they all died off? Their website seems to have died? Wellington Civic Trust, once mighty warriors and speakers of truth unto power, have seemingly given up the ghost, or perhaps more correctly, become ghost themselves. Is the Fish all that is left? Is the Scoop now just fish and no Chips?
Why do I care? Indeed, do I care? Well, yes I do care – because of the potential shade on the waterfront. I’d be interested to know what effect the extra height of this building has on the waterfront. Unlike some other spaces in Wellington, and unlike the extremely narrow hours of official “lunchtime” in Poneke, where 12-2 is sanctioned as lunch time and anyone having outside that extremely narrow band of time is clearly a weirdo and deserves no sunshine, the Wellington Waterfront Promenade Walk is special. Yes, granted, it is probably most busy at the rush hours of 8-9am and 4-6pm, as people scoot along (both literally and figuratively) the waterfront to get to and from work and the Haubtbahnhoff, but on a good day – such as Wellington had yesterday and looks like also having today – then the waterfront is absolutely gold, and is thus full of people. One of the earlier writers on the Fish wrote about it here, and I tried to reflect on it here. The waterfront is our best feature – world-beating, in fact – and people are there at all hours, although definitely less so when it is shrouded in shadow. And seeing as the Waterfront playground for grown ups has been recently finished off with a grand external area (literally in the very foreground of the only photo of the proposed building), then should this not be the part we should be trying to protect from shadows outside the narrow lunch time band? Has NO ONE asked about this?
More information has come to light via one of our correspondents, and so some additional Jasmax renders are posted here (sourced from SkyScraper City) – and also a curious new sketch which could possibly be the source for the original design…? Hmmmm…. I wonder….?