The Queens Wharf Project Needs Pier Pressure


securityIs it just me or all the finalists for the Queens Wharf RWC designs a major letdown? shed

I’ve talked before about how often Auckland seems to talk about things for decades, then rush something up in haste with a cheapo $2 shop look as a solution.  Not only does it feel it’s happening again, aren’t we once again putting the cart before the horse?

It’s rare that there is such a fast track to a major public development in Auckland but we must make sure it’s not something just to satisfy the government calls for a party central for one sporting event. Something we let happen under our noses because we are so relieved some development is happening and the waterfront being opened up.  Think how under - used,  and unsatisfactory developments like the stark uninviting concrete Aotea square became. And the concrete wind tunnel outside the Downtown shopping centre opposite Britomart before it got a recent tidy up? There are many more examples. It feels as if it’s happening again.

cityAre we letting be created, a poorly-thought out, limited venue space that will be empty, windy, and bleak over winter as the viaduct is?

What’s bizarre is we are once again building something before really working out what we want inside.

Aotea square feels like that. There’s concrete and a bit of grass but what really was it trying to be. Now the council again is spending millions to turn it into something else again with little public consultation.

Take a close look here at the five finalists for the redevelopment of Queens Wharf.ferry

How did it come to these soulless looking concepts? The brief was to choose final five designs “for their ability to strike the right balance between meeting the need for a great space for the public to enjoy, the ability to act as a major celebration venue during Rugby World Cup 2011 (and other future events), and the need for a world class cruise-ship terminal.”

From 237 designs, the five were chosen as having the best potential to be further developed in design work for stage two of the contest determined on October 23 with the final winner announced a month later.

If the plan is in such a rushed timetable, how about bringing in a true and proven solution. I would suggest we look at San Francisco’sshopping31 Pier 39 (right and below). It’s historical,  has a similar structure, but has been well converted to public use with things like an aquarium and eateries and become both the city’s most popular venue and major tourist magnet.

The 18 hectare two-level well-landscaped Pier 39 has 110 specialty shops and 13 full-service restaurants serving seafood, California cuisine, and casual fare with beautiful Bay views.  You catch glimpses of the famous old prison Alcatraz, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Fisherman’s Wharf and the city skyline.

So why don’t we call in the company running it and get them to do something for us? They understand what works. We don’t just want to create a cheap looking rugby pier3booze barn in that old shed with drunken hoons hanging about trying not to fall in the water. We want something the city can be proud of for years to come; a family venue that connects the city and the sea.

pier2.jpggWe’re proud of Auckland’s waterfront and from Queen’s Wharf , the views are magnificent with Rangitoto, the harbour bridge and the ferries -and the city skyline. This is a wharf that has been closed off for so long but it feels very Auckland.

We’re only going to get one decent go at this.  Or because authorities didn’t listen, it will be a replay of Aotea square, where millions were taken from rates to rustle up a still debatable revamp of the original idea without working out what the city really needs.




  1. Jeremy Harris says:

    Absolutely right Jon… Those finalists are a cost cutting disgrace… It is so frustrating that for all the fighting we do to make Auckland a better people city we such stupid proposal that Aucklanders will regret for another 50+ years…


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