Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: A gift that keeps on giving

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  • David Haywood,

    Graham Reid wrote:

    These were tired and obvious names, familiar men (all of them men if I recall) who belong to the past even though they inhabit the present. They were not of the future....

    Let's just get on and do what needs to be done for our city -- and by extension, the country.

    But it takes vision and courage. Someone -- and it may well be just one person -- who says, "We can and will do this".

    Your man might well be former head of the Transport and Urban Linkages Committee, Richard Simpson. The CitRats absolutely hated his guts because he had ideas (good ideas, in my opinion) and a huge architectural vision for Auckland.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Look at what happened to Trevor Mallard's suggestion for a huge glass waka stadium on the waterfront a few years ago.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Your man might well be former head of the Transport and Urban Linkages Committee, Richard Simpson. The CitRats absolutely hated his guts because he had ideas (good ideas, in my opinion) and a huge architectural vision for Auckland.

    I wish more people would listen to Richard Simpson. He has genuinely visionary ideas.

    The thing the CitRats hated most about Richard, and Christine Caughey, was that they dared to win in what was considered Tory home turf.

    I blogged last year about Aaron Bhatnagar's disgraceful use of Wikipedia to attack his opponents.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22744 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    In order to do anything, we need to move the Port; but to where?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    I was talking with someone at Australian Opera last year, and they estimated that 50% of their audience, especially during the summer months, were people from outside of Sydney who went to see their productions simply because they were on at the Opera House. That is a huge number obviously, which shows the pulling power of that building. I think not just the building itself, but its location. As a tourist to Sydney you WILL see it. It is also close to all major transport options. That's not even talking about its beauty, the fact you can sit there in the sun during the day etc.
    I would be interested to know similar audience numbers for Circa Theatre here in Wellington. It also enjoys a great location for tourists: anyone who goes to Te Papa , and most tourists do, see Circa.
    I am sure that was the idea behind the Arts Precinct that was mooted for Auckland. But, like Graham, I would love to see an arts-based building/precinct on the Auckland waterfront. Although that may well kill off the argument as put out by Metro about the cultural capital - Auckland would win it hands down in that scenario!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Agreed - I often wonder about the future of iconic architecture/building in what masquerades as modern democracy. It seems to me at least that pulling such feats off does indeed involve a bold commitment and vision; a single vision that is hard to pursue in a modern committee age. I wouldn’t be the first to point out that committees of this era tend to veer towards populism and therefore MacDonald’s thinking and design – well marketed, aimed at instant gratification, but ultimately empty and unsatisfying. I just can’t imagine enough “leaders” agreeing on something. Architecture and my other great love public sculpture will suffer most. Who would dare erect something like the the Angel of North ?

    Though sometimes the alternatives are scary - the “Chuck Windsor” school of architectural thought where the mantra is; old = goooood, new = baaaaad. But I guess this makes sense when you look at the man; the newest home he lives in is probably 400 years old; instant Victoriana euccchhh.

    Weirdly for me at least, the container yards, particularly at night lend a unique vitality and grounding to the city. Things come and go in a strange mechanised ballet. I always wanted to build an amphitheatre with an open side facing the sea, round a port yard. There would be a tunnel at the back facing the sea going to the city, feeding roads and rail to the country. The sides of the theatre could hold so many things galleries, museums etc. It struck me as an emotional counterpoint to the Kiwi connectedness with the land.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    I wish more people would listen to Richard Simpson. He has genuinely visionary ideas.

    And the best bit? He always seems to try and do them with a low-cost mentality.
    - Need to build a billion-dollar Harbour Bridge replacement? Destroy the old one and sell up all that lovely St Mary's Bay land to pay for it.
    - Need a new stadium that connects to the heart of the city? Upgrade existing Carlaw Park with travelator in existing Albert St tunnels
    - Need an iconic public transport link from the city to the airport? Run ferries down Tamaki River and just canal the last bit.

    My optimism that any of it would happen is sorely tested though. Perhaps an Alex Sweny as mayor with Richard Simpson as his "running mate" deputy. Unfortunately C&R would probably paint them as "city woofters trying to spend all your money on Queen St" to the large swathes of the suburbs...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    To transform the Auckland waterfront requires vision. I've no doubt that visionaries exist in our city. But the long history of Auckland local body politics suggests that change, if any, will be gradual and incremental, and will occur only after enormous resistance.

    One only has to remember the hysteria about removing a few trees from Queen Street.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Money you say? What you didn't mention is that in NSW they're arguing about whether to spend A$1 billion in a recession to finish the building properly, leading to opposition statements like these:

    "Five months ago we cut rail projects to the northwest and southwest because Mr [Nathan] Rees said we didn't have the money," Mr [Barry] O'Farrell told reporters in Sydney.
    "Now we have a lazy half billion or billion dollars, and his first priority is going to be the Opera House.
    "This project ... is the equivalent of three major hospitals ... It would complete the upgrading of the Pacific Highway. It would help construct rail links to the northwest and southwest of Sydney."

    That story here:

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/789094/govt-mull-1-billion-opera-house-project

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    What is lacking in Auckland is a courageous vision:

    It may be that this courageous vision thing is not only lacking in city planning around AK circa 2009.
    And it may have been around for a while. Perhaps it a peculiar malady afflicting some members of officialdom in NZ.
    Ah well, the playing the margins/hedge their bets guys have the ball for a few years now, maybe we could all start making plans for when they leave.
    Mebbe by then this courageous vision will be the only option.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Wurr,

    Will the city ever be able to break free from the conservative shackles that have surrounded it for decades? To be a grown up city you need vision, a decent infrastructure (rail, light rail, subway, buses, open spaces that people want to frequent, a balance of art and commerce etc) and that just seems like it will never happen while we consistently have short term gain mentality.....

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • GuannyL,

    This always happens in Auckland, look what happened to Aotea Square. So much potential for a gorgeous open area in the middle of town, so many architects pitching exciting ideas, and in the end it just got scaled back to a big slab of concrete and a couple of picnic tables.

    Since Apr 2008 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    There seems to be some kind of "quarter acre cartel" who still dominate the city planning debate - an unholy alliance of blue-rinse McMansionites and eco-Luddites. On the flip side of the coin, shoebox tower developers haven't helped matters much either.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5415 posts Report Reply

  • R Gardiner,

    So, let's all have a multi-zillion dollar mega-iconic building so that all our cities stand out against each other.

    No criticism of your comments on the Sydney Opera House and Utzon but proposing to lift an idea from Sydney as a way of injecting originality into Auckland simply because an anniversary pops up seems odd.

    Auckland is splendid, great harbour, really cool volcanos (much the best sort to have in a city) and the waterfront overall is wonderful (not just the inner city bits - there is more). The buildings are not up to Paris standards but what other city has buildings of that order anyway?

    And I don't even live there any more.

    Since Mar 2009 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    No criticism of your comments on the Sydney Opera House and Utzon but proposing to lift an idea from Sydney as a way of injecting originality into Auckland simply because an anniversary pops up seems odd.

    People have been talking for years about doing something with Auckland's waterfront. I don't think this is something new.

    The buildings are not up to Paris standards but what other city has buildings of that order anyway?

    Auckland central did have a lot of lovely buildings not so long ago. But successive councils have let developers demolish them, or allowed facadism to blight the city.

    All great cities have iconic buildings. Why shouldn't we in Auckland aspire to be a great city?

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Wurr,

    What I find horrifying is the way the royal commission on the so called super city is being portrayed in the media as a fait accompli.

    Where are the questions that need to be asked?

    Such as who was pushing for this so-called supercity? Who stands to gain from it? Why is there not a public referendum? Why is there a push to return to the bad old days of FPP which will reduce representation to the rich and business interests even more?

    It's disturbing to watch this happen to a city with so much potential. It seems to be fast tracked with little organised opposition.....and the probability that it will set the city back decades. Have we forgotten how bad things were in the 80's and 90's?

    Privatisation does NOT work, it's aims are to make the rich richer and the assets of Auckland must be looking ripe for the sell off....for f*@k's sake let's grow up and inject some vision into Auckland's future, not just short term gain for the few!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • R Gardiner,

    Hi Scotty

    I know people have been talking about Auckland's waterfront for years. My comment was directed at Reid's proposal and how he said he came by it.

    Bruce

    I f I had to offer a suggestion to on how to improve Auckland it would probably be to look at how Tokyo changed from the madhouse of traffic and rush to the efficient place it is now. Of course their buildings are generally utterly boring (with brilliant exceptions). It is required that every vehicle has it's own parking space and then every parking space is rated/taxed until the traffic numbers fall to suit the operating capacity of the roads. I imagine that tax is used to help pay for the excellent rail system.

    Since Mar 2009 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    In total agreement that Auckland, and particularly downtown is bereft of beautiful buildings.

    But do we want a building? I agree it would be great to have something special to lift Auckland. But are there other options than the work of an architect?

    As one thought how about replacing the parking lot that is the container wharf with some kind of really special park? I don't know if that is special enough but I just don't know that I want Auckland to be known for a building, even a beautiful one. Not too long ago you could say we were known for "One Tree Hill".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    As one thought how about replacing the parking lot that is the container wharf with some kind of really special park?

    What? Isn't the car park on Bledisloe Wharf special enough?

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    In order to do anything, we need to move the Port; but to where?

    Somewhere near Howick/Clevedon was mentioned about a decade ago as a suitable spot with deep enough access, but I don't recall any details.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    How about a gigantic living sculpture for Auckland? Something people can touch and walk through. something that will grow into its full glory - like David Nash's living sculptures. He's done another of flowering cherries that are trained into a dome and the blossoms create a roof, but, alas, cannot find a picture of it. This is his Ash Dome planted back in about 1977 in the woods around his studio in Wales.


    david nash ash dome

    Imagine a living dome of kowhai or pohutukawa...

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • R Gardiner,

    Sacha

    If the port was shifted then freight forwarders would move nearby followed by service industries followed by housing and shops etc............and another city would grow, Auckland would then noticeably if not fatally, wilt.

    The scrappy and ugly bits just need upgrading, to a quality and style that induces a sense of pride and consequently proper maintenance. It just needs a review to identify the crud, a programme to organise priorities, and the will to get started and realise it will never stop. It's not a big ticket item all up front.

    One grand scheme to fix things now and forever is unrealistic.

    Since Mar 2009 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I would say move just the large bulk operations (containers, tank farm) and leave the smaller scale working port in a more accessible form, as I understand other well-designed waterfronts do.

    Zoning would restrict residential development from following the support industries - just as it works for the freight-forwarding cluster at the airport. I think that may have also been part of the siting logic - that lots of the associated commercial infrastructure and workforce are relatively nearby, with a direct rail link to join the main line at Manukau.

    I'm not attached to any particular outcome, but it's a relevant conversation given the tussle for assets (especially the port company) that will follow restructuring of Auckland's local bodies. We already know they're moving the tank farm, so maybe that's enough?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

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