Wednesday, November 4, 2009


When the idea that New Zealand should have a new national museum and national gallery on the Wellington waterfront became a reality the first words on every thinking citizens lips were "architectural competition" and an architectural competition there was. Te Papa was the result. How did that happen? Simple really. The competition was to choose an architect and ended up - through bureaucratic and other kinds of well meaning buffoonery - choosing a building instead. The result was a war between museum and building which the building won. 
The years spent working on a brief for a national art gallery and museum which would fit the nation and its collections was  a waste of time. The nation ended with a building that fitted neither.
The Queens Wharf debacle is another version of the same mindless process.
What the city should have taken advice on was what didi it actually want and need on Queens Wharf.
Architects are not the right profession to make that decision and nor are politicians starry eyed about a one off sporting event.
That lesson learnt lets start again.
Make party central a spectacular but temporary thing.
Let Mayor Banks and anyone else who aspires to lead the super city put together a group of genuinely wise heads and thoughtful citizens to figure out just what it is we want on the waterfront. 
Write a brief then let the competition begin.
Everything so far has been arse about face - a recipe for another Te Papa and we do not want and cannot afford another clunker like that.
Define the purpose and then design a buildings or buildngs fit for it.

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