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Auckland's waterside standoff

Jasmax temporary queens wharf structure

It’s been a mess from the start. Last year hundreds of designers provided proposals for Queen Street Wharf based on a half-baked design brief provided at the last minute. The brief underlined the importance of keeping at least one of the two 98 year old sheds.

A winner was chosen and then then the process was cancelled. The cruise ship terminal was removed from the scheme. All that was required was a tent that will act as “Party Central” for the Rugby World Cup 2011. Now, a few months later, the Auckland Regional Council is proposing to demolish both sheds and put up a temporary structure , designed by Jasmax. The Auckland City Council came up with an alternative proposal in April that reused both industrial sheds. But it doesn’t seem to have the power here. So Auckland will lose its last two wharf sheds and gain a $9M temporary shed. This is a decision that doesn’t take into account the long term future of the waterfront, made because the ARC didn’t want to be “severely embarrassed”.

Queen's Wharf

The Auckland Architecture Association has joined the Historic Places Trust in condemning the plans, calling for the process to be halted. AAA spokesperson Adam Mercer said , “to wastefully demolish the last of Auckland’s working waterfront heritage before the Super City is formed and a comprehensive masterplan for the waterfront can be developed is premature, foolish and wasteful”. That Super City he is talking about is the plan to amalgamate Auckland Councils into one, and abolish the ARC. This is becoming a political battle between two bodies that soon won’t exist.

Whichever way it goes, the architectural fratenity has been badly bruised by the process. Untold hours have been wasted by architects from around the world on an incompetently handled competition. To rub salt into the wounds, late last year Auckland Mayor John Banks said, “I have not yet jumped to a conclusion that the whole show has been a waste of time, because at the very least, at not very great cost, we have got people thinking of this.” Not at great cost to the city perhaps – but costing the many participating architectural firms a good lot.

Last week Tim Greer, of Sydney practice Tokin Zulaikha Greer, published his opinion in the NZ Herald.

In the end, no project eventuated, no thanks were given, only a bit of crowing from politicians about how little the whole fiasco had cost them.

Auckland does not need a Rugby World Cup “Party Central” on the wharf, if the consequence of it is a wharf full of nothing. This is a short term solution for a pivotal site made by a government body that won’t exist after November 1st.

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Posted by Peter on 07.06.10 in 

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This makes me so sad for Auckland, eh. They never get it right …

by kmcf on 10.06.09, 10:03 pm ·#

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