Tram Wires Worry Architects


An Auckland-based architectural practice today, while supporting the re-introduction of trams to Auckland’s waterfront raised the issues of visual clutter it may bring.

And it wants the issue of a connection between Wynyard Quarter and the CBD prioritised.

Peddle Thorp director Richard Goldie says it’s an opportune time to do something about the city’s over-abundance of visual clutter.

“There is a design exercise waiting to happen that could unify and diminish the visual impact of traffic lights, signs and associated urban junk. We have all experienced the way an urban space ‘breathes’ when overhead power lines are undergrounded. The clutter of overhead wires associated with the trams will need to be carefully handled.”

SEA OF WIRES: Wellington buses in downtown CBD

Public transport, especially pedestrian compatible options such as trams are a vital component in any urban environment and will add a crucial dimension to the enlivening of Wynyard Point, Mr Goldie says.

“All businesses rely on convenient transport for their people, connecting with the transport hubs at Britomart should be a priority.

“The uncertain future of Te Whero bridge means the direct connection of Wynyard point to the city via the proposed tram system should be prioritised. I would like to see the loop extend across to the back of Victoria Park which will link with this developing, vital area.

“Let’s hope ‘heritage’ in the context of the trams doesn’t mean the same as ‘heritage’ might in the context of our rail system! This isn’t toy town,” Mr Goldie says.

MOTAT trains will be used

Peddle Thorp wase responsible for designing a number of landmark buildings including Auckland’s Vero Centre, the award-winning upgrade to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, The Westin Lighter Quay and the Meridian Building in Wellington.

More on the tram issue and connection to the CBD




  1. Jon R says:

    All cities around with world with trams and trolley buses have wires. Do the people there complain about them? No!

    Auckland city is hardly a mess of cluttered wires and signals compared to other major cities in the world. This “designer” should go live in Buenos Aires, Lima, Zurich, Geneva or Basel.

    Surely he can’t be serious?

  2. AR says:

    I quite like the overhead wires in Wellington. Give a very cosmopoliatan european feeel

  3. Scott says:

    It is possible to run electric trams without wires. It is just more expensive. Inductive power transfer (i.e. electric toothbrush) can be used as well as conductive rails (where only a small section under the train is live to prevent pedestrian shocks). Batteries are often talked about but there limited lifespan makes them less desirable. Also note that tram wires are less visually intrusive than trolley bus wires.

  4. Richard says:

    Just as well this character didn’t put his oar in before the decision was made to electrify the trains. However I suppose in most places only people using the trains see the wires.

    He ought to concentrate on the power and phone companies. On the North Shore the council and Waitemata power board were regularly under grounding the power lines with a joint plan but this all went down the tubes when Max Bradford scattered the power boards to the free winds

  5. Brent C says:

    Aucklanders seem to make a big deal about electric wires. I believe they can be incorporated into the design of streets successfully. All good urban designers can turn a negative into a positive. I guess this company doesn’t possess those kinds of skills.

  6. rtc says:

    It’s funny, Auckland’s streets are full of overhead cables outside of the CBD, and yet a few wires in the CBD are supposed to be visual clutter. Visual clutter to me is the mess of parking signs in Auckland. I personally like some trams/trolley bus wires in a city, makes a city look like it’s serious about PT and serious about reducing pollution from diesel buses downtown. I currently live in a city with a huge tram/trolley bus network and can honestly say I barely notice the overhead cables, they also don’t detract from the city’s architecture - architecture that has a lot more merit that most of Auckland’s downtown.

  7. DanC says:

    When in Europe / Melbourne I don’t notice the overhead cables. I do notice the great public transport service / culture these cities have.

  8. Andrew says:

    I’d pick a street with overhead wires over a street jammed with cars and trucks any day.

  9. Matthew says:

    Bordeaux has a 3rd rail type tram system without overhead electrics. But I understand it was very expensive.

  10. Kel says:

    In a city clutter is something I LIKE! Makes the city feel like a city!!

  11. Anthony says:

    whats better? wire clutter or polluting traffic?

  12. Carl says:

    Ok guys please excuse my words of choice but when i read stories like this it just winds me up.

    Honestly who the fu*k is this guy? as others have put has he never traveled? like ever?

    1. every major PT orientated city in the world has tram lines overhead, they are designed that way so people can see firstly, that there is tram system and second to stop people from getting electrucued.

    2. since when does an Archie comment on trams/ trains or what not? isn’t it an engineers job to do that?

    3. thanks mate for 20 cents of input, now shut the fu*k and go back to designing whatever it is your designing and refer to my second point. (which guys im pretty sure is correct right)

    4. has this loser been to Fed Square in Melbourne? and seen the lighting system they have there? its all tied by cables and oh my gosh when it gets dark and the lights come on, you don’t even see the cables.

    5. people like this, that probably have spent a good 5-10 years at uni, whom are suppose to be the some of the more “on to it” people in society came out with utter bs like this? do me a favor, even a 7 year kid would understand that a tram needs to get power from somewhere.

    6. why does it need to hidden? the crap that he is talking about ( which again someone else pointed out) trolly buses won’t be in use. and the actual amount of lines aren’t going to very much.

    After spending a week in Melbourne and seeing how things operate pretty much non stop it really ticks me off to hear people like this idiot come up with some utter garbage.

    take a look at Budapest’s tram / light rail system, its been there since 1897, its pretty, yeah its old and rattley but it adds to the feel of it.

    this system should actually be pushed back up queen street again, this would then kill off these idiot boy racers (and hay im only young but i new a few years back that doing laps around a city is a waste of petrol and also harmful to the earth). Because if trams were about they couldn’t go anywhere.

    the only issue is i guess is teaching people to do hook turns.

    guys are there anymore links on this tram situation? this is really exciting stuff…

  13. Joshua says:

    First of all, I do agree that overhead wires are better than car clogged streets, that if it’s needed to run the system then it should.

    But I also agree that Auckland City has to much visual clutter an that overhead wires are ugly. So if we can possibly come up with a better solution why not, I don’t personally buy the opinion that overseas cities have it so why should we, we should be bettering ourselves, we are the 4th greatest city and that’s because we do better than them on a number of things, we didn’t get there by just doing what they are doing.

    My point is we have confirmed the tram system, which is the most important point, now we should look at making it the best possible service we can with minimizing the effect on the surrounding environment, one way is to reduce visual clutter, how ever if it cannot be done cost effectively than the wires stay. My question would be has this architectural practice have a solution they would like to share?

  14. Nick R says:

    Tram wires can be done lazily and badly, or they can be done very well with a little thought and cohesion in service provision. Melbourne has examples of both, matty nests of wires everywhere, and some lines that are basically invisible. There are even some heritage combination lamp post/tram poles that IMHO improve the urban environment.

    One thing to consider is the fact that the ‘combo-poles’ on Queen St that carry lighting, traffic lights and banners are also capable of supporting tram overhead. Surely using the same thing on the waterfront would be a very acceptable solution.

  15. max says:

    As people have said, tram wires can be done well. As for undergrounding them - yes, feasible, but very costly. If we had a government that was as driven to invest into PT as it is into motorways, that may be feasible. Right now, it would be the added expense that would break the camel’s back (if it doesn’t get broken much earlier - “trams for Auckland” is far from confirmed. We are getting one single loop that can disappear again).

  16. Wow- I am pleased to see the people of Auckland so engaged! It is because I have travelled extensively, and seen NZ ‘in relief’ as it were, that I know we have a unique environment, something that needs care in its handling, and who says we cant solve these problems when others have? -Look at the excellent ‘decluttering’ achieved in the recent Queen Street revamp. Of perhaps more importance perhaps is my point that in order for Wynyard Point to be a vital urban precinct it needs strong connection with the city and our developing infrastructure- extend the loop into the city!

  17. Christopher says:

    And I think the architect should examine his own ‘house’ before chucking stones; some ‘architecturally’ designed buildings are much uglier than tram wires.

  18. Carl says:

    ^^ lol at that for a reply…. I think this guy serially needs to leave the trams to the trams people, and stick to what ever it is that he does….

    because after what I have seen of the videos of Wynyard Quarter point whatever its going to be called next week, there is nothing unique about it.

    The ASB bank building roof top is rather stupid… and that other big stupid looking ‘shed’ that sticks like a sore thumb.

    its all very well and good building yet another events centre… but honestly do we really need another? whats wrong with vector or Aotea Sq?

    big waste of money I i reckon, the plan for a tunnel should be sorted out before we build all this urban stuff, because all your going to have do, is dig 1/2 of it back up again to accomadate a tunnel as such.

    I think some people need to look outside the box for a change… all this bs of urban space and parks, how much do we actually need? and another hotel? whats wrong with the Hilton? your starting to cater in this whole area for possibly a handful of rich people and a few thousand jet setters that are only going to be 4-6 weeks of the year… waste if you ask me.

  19. ingolfson says:

    “big waste of money I i reckon, the plan for a tunnel should be sorted out before we build all this urban stuff, because all your going to have do, is dig 1/2 of it back up again to accomadate a tunnel as such.”

    The tunnel would actually not be a problem, because it is… (drum roll…) a tunnel. You know - underground? With designations already in place so new building foundations don’t screw it up.

    What really would screw up the Tank Farm is if some BOLLOCKS happens and the new study (on top of another study and on top of another study) currently going on throws away the already made decisions and comes to the politically desired “Joyce” decision that a bridge would be better after all. Try saving Tank Farm when you have a massive approach ramp and aboveground motorway running through it.

    As for Carl’s complainst about this only being for the rich - chill man. Auckland is going to grow to 2 million people in a few decades. They gotta live somewhere. It ain’t all rich people’s houses.

  20. Carl says:

    ^ dude on a serial note, only a handful of people are going to be able to afford to live in that area…..and with more people coming as you predict, its only going to make more expensive to try and buy or build down there, take a look around, a cruise terminal, a luxury boat building area, your average wage earning family isn;’t going to be moving into the area are they?

    the plans and the video of the area are total arse.

    I’d like someone to explain to me where the next america’s cup base is going to be? or have we all lost faith?

    I have heard of tunneling, I’ve actually just written a piece on it for uni. I’m pretty sure someone will make a mistake somewhere… look what happened when the had to re dig Queens street…

  21. Joshua says:

    Carl - In terms of tunnelling, the designations are in, in another words the developments are not allowed to pile foundations where the tunnel is set to run, if they do they will end up forking out to re-engineer their building’s foundations to remove unnecessary loadings from the tunnel itself and if they want to keep their buildings, find other possible loading points. Because of the geological nature of that area the piles are going to be deep at whatever location, so I don’t see any problems here. Of course you do realise that a project of this scope the only economic way to proceed is through boring, as any form of Cut and Cover is going to exceed the budget.

    Also what are you getting at on your average wage earner bs? The development is in the hub of town, on the waterfront. Of course it’s going to cater to the people who can afford to live is such an area. Are you proposing we turn it into a Otara or Mangere style area, because in a location like that it’s never going to happen? In the end we need to preserve our public space, with the extra population moving to Auckland any space that there is going to get overloaded with-out controlling the growth, with your opinion on the current Architecture, that is what it is, your opinion, that’s the thing with Architecture, everyone has different opinions, it’s entirely subjective.

    In the end I encourage you to do some more research into tunnelling, as I’m guessing from your comments you have only touched on the factors and techniques, if you get into detail you will be able to picture the construction techniques and note that this area will not be ripped up. I’ll give you a tip, the tunnel needs to be underground the whole distance including the ocean floor, now you can do some quick calculations to see where the bore will need to start.

  22. Carl says:

    ^ dont need a lesson thanks, im pretty sure i can understand the whole thing needs to be under ground, that is my point.

    my problem is there seems to be all these great ideas, about doing one thing at a time, then coming back and doing something else later..

    like i said before, all these stations getting built, yet someone else is going to have to come back along and do the powering of the whole system. who dumb is that, be like everybody else and do it all in one hit, i understand different people companies do different things, but you honestly think anything is going to be ready in the next 2-3 years? all its going to be for the next 4-5 years is constant station closers or delays while this cable get laid, then that gets done, or this gets repainted.

    its taken them what 80 odd years to only get to this point, which IMO is still actually nothing because its still not a system that is going to be complete.

    with Perth, the decided on a line route, gave it a time frame, and got in and built the dam thing. and bang 2-3 years later a brand new line with new trains and brand new stations. and two years on its already being expanded with new bus routes.

    yes a couple of delays but no bs of one group going in first, then a few years later another doing a different job.

    the whole system is a joke if you ask me.

    and as for the people moving there, i was replying to someone earlier who asked me to chill out…

    as i said, this area is only going to cater for a select few. I really don’t see how the idea of public space for everybody involves a bungy jump?


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