For quite some time the central area on Taranaki St has been a bit of a pedestrian desert – Briscoe’s boring half mile on one side of the highway, and the Capital City Ford / Mazda car yard on the other. Super-shiny new cars with big petrol engines – the last branch of the unleaded dinosaur brigade, with Ford (once a behemoth in this part of town) now playing second or even third fiddle in the popularity stakes. I had thought that perhaps by now Ford would be showing some signs of leadership – an all-electric car of some sort (at the very least), if not a fully-electric, 100% recycled hoverboard. But no – instead we get a monster of a Ford ute called the Ranger, more suitable for the back blocks of a mountain range than for downtown Wellington, powered by a stonking great engine, and all painted matt black, like a fantasy terrorist urban assault vehicle.

Time, therefore, for you to go.

And with that, they did. Or at least, someone issued plans for them to be replaced by housing – a much better solution. It is welcome news – at long last there is some movement on new building projects in Wellington – something that isn’t just a seismic strengthening project. Also, at long last, an indication that the Car Yard no longer has a place on Taranaki St.

So what, therefore, is being planned? Well, I’m as clueless as you at this stage, having only read the full page advert in the Dom, which describes the project as Paddington, and sites it on Taranaki St. Tellingly, the publicity images show not a single car or bus on the entire street frontage – that’ll be a shock to them when the buyers wake up to find themselves on the edge of one of the busiest streets in the lower North Island.

The project appears to be designed by an Aussie outfit called a+ and no, I’ve never heard of any of their staff or projects either. None of them appear to actually be registered as Architects in New Zealand, which is disappointing, and no, I’ve never heard of the developers either – Thames Pacific.

But if you’re doing a project so clearly based on the 3 story palette of terraced housing in inner-city Sydney, then clearly there is a good argument for engaging an Aussie design crew. The visuals look good (lack of traffic aside) – but I wonder, in passing, if the designers have actually ever been to Wellington? I know that the Council have been pushing for the car yards to be moved on, and residential housing built there instead, but I’m thinking that even they will be more than slightly disappointed that this area, which can be built up to 27m (about 8 storeys comfortably), will end up with only 2-3 storeys until the end of time. I would have thought that a taller wall along Taranaki would be a more appropriate response – perhaps 5-6 floors along Taranaki St (instead of the only TWO storeys high they have shown), and then 3-4 floors elsewhere. A minimal, modicum of verandah too, along Taranaki St, fading away to almost nothing at the Jessie St corner. Surely the City Council urban design planner would have something to say about that?

What do you think? Right response, or not?

Finally, just for m28a31, a friendly bear, a long way from darkest Peru: