Urban Embroidery: The Predicament Regarding the Incoherence of Wellington's Landscape
Since Wellington’s establishment as a British colonial town in 1839 its townscape has evolved rapidly - becoming aesthetically complex, multifaceted and increasingly incoherent. New Zealand cities have characteristically borrowed an array of architectural ideas from other countries and applied them with little consideration of local context. In Wellington, as elsewhere, the result has been a townscape that has no common aesthetic base to build from and no shared design language. Yet from this aesthetic confusion, some informal but strong local typologies have emerged. In searching for an architectural solution to the problem of Wellington’s aesthetically incoherent townscape, this thesis takes the stance that it is these unique local typologies that must be built upon. Attention to local context and an awareness of site specifics are of most importance in the development of a strong design language for the city. The existing special qualities that give Wellington its personality must be carried through to develop a more coherent townscape. In this way local identity will eventually prevail and the aesthetics of the city will become something that speaks of clarity and truth. For logistical purposes, one particular block in the Te Aro neighbourhood has been focused upon. This thesis advocates an intimate understanding of place and so the site specifics of this block are looked at closely. The philosophy and methodology could be applied to other neighbourhoods and cities, with designs developed in response to their particular local conditions. Within the inner city there are many thresholds and blurred boundaries between what is private and public space. New Zealand cities are particularly interesting to study, because historically the inner city neighbourhoods have not been densely occupied for residential purposes. But this has been changing recently, and rapidly, in our larger cities. Te Aro is a good example of this trend. The relationships between public and private spaces within the city, and the spaces between these realms, are what this thesis is particularly concerned with. By applying the discipline of landscape architecture to revive and make use of these small, neglected interstitial spaces, it is hoped that the overall visual coherence of the inner city will be improved and some strong local typologies enhanced.