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Shifting sands at Oriental Bay

In the past 100 years the “rotunda” at Wellington’s Oriental Bay has been buffeted not just by wild seas, but also the less predictable winds of change. Shifting needs, mores, and economies have seen the structure reinvented several times, and it’s about to happen all over again.

09.11.19 in buildings authorities

Swanston street wall - "Responsible" Authorities

Most of the authorities involved in the Swanston Street wall collapse site moved quickly to defensive positions. None have come forward with solid initiatives that might make a permanent difference to public safety. The responses of the council and planning department were disappointing, pointing fingers at one another and then clamming up.

17.08.19 in authorities 

Swanston street wall - Prevention matters

The Coroner’s findings into the Swanston Street wall collapse suggested that a revised clause in the Building Act “adequately address” prevention matters. So I checked it out.

10.08.19 in authorities 

Link rot and rotten links

Many of the informative articles people used to publish on their websites have been deleted in the past ten years, presumably as people try to rein in any damage to reputation that having an opinion might entail. This is a pain for historians. Unheralded architectural pamphlets, rants and manifestos from the past few centuries are preserved in archives and shoeboxes, awaiting discovery. It’s a much harder task examining the digital decades as it’s mostly wiped.

03.08.19 in directories random-debris

Goff forgotten?

In an article in September, “The Man Who Made Wildly Imaginative, Gloriously Disobedient Buildings”, in the New York Times Style magazine, the author wonders why Bruce Goff is no longer appreciated. I’d thought that he was, but apparently his buildings are falling like flies.

09.01.19 in  

Swanston Street wall - 5th anniversary

A few people have asked recently what ever came of the investigations into the wall collapse. For those not familiar, a long section of brick wall fell to the footpath at the C.U.B. site in Swanston Street one windy day late in March 2013.

29.03.18 in brick authorities

The wall, two years later

An old brick wall collapsed in central Melbourne two years ago, killing three young students walking past on a busy footpath. I cobbled together a history of the wall and published it. Then time passed. Occasional news articles focused on fragments of the official investigations, but it was (and is) hard to get the big picture on what has happened since March 2013. In summary: not a lot.

05.04.15 in brick authorities

Comment [6]

Deterring density

In July, Plan Melbourne introduced three new flavours of residential zone. Loosely described, the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) will prevent medium or high density developments in order to preserve character, the General Residential Zone (GRZ) is pretty much business as usual with a small nod to developers, and the Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) is where apartment blocks will be allowed to blossom. Well blossom as much as they can within a 13.5m height restriction. The new zones are meant to provide more certainty to residents and developers.

23.11.14 in planning 

Strings of coincidences

The Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania has a peculiar name. Old art and new art add up to all art, so why not just call it the Museum of Art? But that would abbreviate to MA or MoA, neither perhaps being appropriate. The acronym is MONA and that’s what everyone calls it now, which is as it was meant to be.

05.11.14 in museums books

Railroaded

Magritte - time transfixed In May’s Victorian state budget, the Metro Rail Capacity Project was officially abandoned and relaunched as the smaller, Southern-focused Melbourne Rail Link. It’s been under consideration for less than three months, and looks to have been rushed out in time for the November state election. They’ve earmarked $8.6B – $11B, which includes (a bit like steak knives) a distant airport rail link branching off the Sunbury line.

20.06.14 in urban-planning 

Comment [2]

A sentiment in a minor key

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is out of the way now, sandwiched between The Presidio military barracks and a residential neighbourhood. It was out on the edge because it it sits on what used to be the swampy 635 acre home of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (“The Innocent Fair”). There’s little left to see of the buildings that made up the expo, but it was well-documented – here’s a good glimpse showing the Palace in construction.

19.06.14 in buildings heritage

The silver fern

The silver fern has come to represent almost everything to do with New Zealand. There are a lot of ferns there so that makes sense. Weirdly enough, my great grandfather suggested it, well over a hundred years ago. Tamati Rangiwahia Erihana (Thomas Ellison, Ngai Tahu and Te Ati Awa) was a footballer of some repute, being the first coach of the New Zealand Rugby Team. At the first meeting of the NZRU in 1893 he suggested— a shift from the dark blue uniform with a gold fern to a, “black jersey with silver fernleaf, black cap with silver monogram, and white knickerbockers.” They kept them well-clad back then. The silver colour comes from the underside of the common ponga, or Cyathea Dealbata, a fern used by Māori for bedding. Ellison and team had worn this uniform on the Native Rugby Team overseas tour in 1888. His motion was accepted and so the uniform changed and has been pretty constant since, apart from a change to black shorts in 1901.

21.05.14 in random-debris 

Comment [1]

Finding planes

I’ve spent a little time taking part in the aerial web search for the missing plane, MH370. Here are a few useful links I’ve found, and tips if you’re considering having a go. It’s good to have Photoshop or Gimp on hand… as well as an internet connection.

20.03.14 in random-debris 

Comment [1]

Problems

The site was shifted today to a new server and there are a few problems. Sorry about that, attempting to fix them all now. The new server is running slightly different software causing some scripts to choke.

27.02.14 in random-debris 

Pruitt Igoe - the film

You know the photos and the footage. In case you don’t here it is, complete with prevailing attitude courtesy of Robert Hughes.

04.02.14 in urban-planning films

And then the pause

For anyone still happening to pass by here of their own volition, it’s been a little quiet. Blogging is a funny thing. You start off wanting to share anything you touch, then after a certain number of years you become much more selective. And interrogative. That seems to be the case here. The short pithy posts you will find on social media, here I’m now trying to do something more. You’ll see the most of the posts this year are quite long – in fact they took several months to put together – I’m not sure how the likes of Geoff Manuagh et al manage to do them so swiftly, but I seem to take my time.

17.10.13 in random-debris 

The missing link

The term “missing link” was originally applied to old fossils. It’s fitting that it is now being used to describe Melbourne’s East West Link. This little project has been floating about since the 1950s, but in it’s current form it can be traced back to a suggestion from Premier Jeff “the quiff” Kennett in 1999. It’s been looked into since, but has always been a political impossibility, and a waste of money… until now. The planets are aligning and Dr Napthine and Tony Abbott can see the project’s “electoral” potential. As long as it’s sold in the right way to the right voters. These voters live in Melbourne’s East, in some of the most marginal electorates in the country. They’re been tempted with a big carrot – a faster run down the Eastern Freeway in the morning rush. We’re told that this run has slowed down 20kph since 2001, which is true, but only because there was a short-lived speed spike in 2001 after the opening of City Link.

20.08.13 in urban-planning cities

Comment [5]

Flinders Street maybes

For almost a hundred years, Melburnians have been looking at ways to better connect the city with the Yarra River, which had been rudely taken away from them by the Public Transport corporation. One story is well known, the drawn out Gas and Fuel to Federation Square saga. On the other side of the bridge, it’s been no less drawn out.

28.05.13 in competitions heritage

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