41 Wharf Street Developments

The main purpose of this blog is to talk about Dunedin and the things that make it a creative city, but sometimes in life we come across things that are so bafflingly oppugnant to us and our values, we just have to take a deep breath and remind ourselves what we believe in.

Now the proposed hotel development on Wharf Street has been a major concern of mine since the news first broke last May, and was initially believed to be a very belated and misguided April fools joke (original article). However, when it became apparent that it was, in fact, no laughing matter, each new development in the story just became more frustrating.

I have absolutely no issues with modern developments, I am a designer, it’s sort of what I do. I am not opposed to increasing tourism opportunities. Although I was recently lucky enough to attend a workshop on Science Communication run by Elizabeth Connor, and during the workshop she showed how tourism is actually a non sustainable industry in New Zealand. I have no issues with Dunedin having a 5 star hotel. I have no issues with revitalising the harbour/waterfront area.

What I do object to, is a design that is completely insensitive to our cities architecture, character, skyline, community needs, harbour view, surroundings and local environment. The proposed structure is 28 storeys high. Twenty-eight. It will cast a shadow over areas that benefit greatly from the sunlight and harbour views.

Below is a video of the proposed hotel development on the Dunedin waterfront

The What If? Dunedin … blog featured a passionate and eloquent diatribe of the new development by Grahame Sydney (found here) where he covers a few inconsistencies with the video as well.

In response to this, sculptor artist Shane McGrath organised the Gelber LuftBallon, to provide Dunedin with an accurate representation of just how high the proposed building would be by flying a bright yellow zeppelin in front of Customhouse Quay (article and images here). This was followed by an open invitation to attend the Gelber LuftBallon (Dunedin Research Project) exhibition at the Blue Oyster Club, with a talk by McGrath on the final day of the exhibition. I had intended to go down and catch the end of the exhibition and McGrath’s talk but sadly was unable to attend.

So then today turned out to be a Snow Day! I had time to check my news feed this morning, and what greeted me was this article. So either way, it seems there is going to be a development on the waterfront. Coming in at a whole 25 storeys less than the original site usage proposal, and with the intention of being mainly offices, you have to seriously wonder: Just what do the people behind the proposal actually want to achieve? Quite honestly, I have no idea what they are up to, and that worries me more than anything.

The decision on the hotel is only a few days away, so until then I can hope that common sense prevails and the proposal is rejected. Otherwise the belief held by my friends and family will be wholly accurate, that I live in Middle Earth, as I will inevitably end up looking at the Dunedin equivalent of Mount Doom on a daily basis.