A line of best fit: Re-stitching earthquake prone buildings and re-connecting pedestrian networks in Wellington City
A Line of Best Fit explores weakness and disconnection in the city. Weakness: There are over 600 earthquake prone buildings in Wellington. The urgency to strengthen buildings risks compromising the aesthetic integrity of the city through abrasive strengthening techniques, or losing a large portion of our built environment to demolition. The need for extensive earthquake strengthening in Wellington, Christchurch and other New Zealand cities provides an exciting opportunity for architecture. Disconnection: In Wellington pedestrian activity is focused around three main routes: Cuba Street, Lambton Quay and Courtney Place. The adjacent areas are often disconnected and lack vibrancy due to large building footprints, no-exit laneways and lack of public spaces. The Design proposes a strategy for earthquake strengthening, preserving and upgrading the built environment, and expanding and connecting the pedestrian realm. The site is two earthquake prone buildings on the block between Marion Street and Taranaki Street in central Wellington. A cut through the centre of the Aspro and Cathie Buildings ties the buildings together to strengthen and create a new arcade as public space. The cut aligns with existing pedestrian routes connecting the block with the city. The Design is divided into three components: Void, Curve, and Pattern and Structure. Void investigates the implications of cutting a portion out the existing buildings and the opportunities this provides for connection, urban interaction, and light. Curve discusses the unusual form of The Design in terms of scale, the human response and the surrounding spaces. Pattern and Structure considers the structural requirements of the project and how a void enveloped in perforated screens can strengthen the earthquake prone buildings. The importance of connection, providing strength in the city, a dialogue between old and new, and engagement with the unexpected are evaluated. Opportunities for further development and research are discussed, with particular reference to how the principles of The Design could be implemented on a larger scale throughout our cities. A Line of Best Fit is an architectural proposal that creates strength and connection.