Café culture

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Architect Ian Athfield died on 16 January this year. In the New Zealand Listener (dated the day before), Diana Wichtel presented an engaging interview, first published in the Listener in 2012, in which Ath “talked about starting his landmark ‘act of defiance’ in 1965, and finally wanting to finish the place.” Interview: Architect Ian Athfield

My image shows an advertisement for Havana Coffee. The green Telecom Building peeping in at the top corner of the image, was, according to one NCEA student, “built in a boom period when New Zealanders had big ideas and wanted their cities to look like international ones …”

Quake-risk portico: still going

still going (09 February 2015)

still going (09 February 2015)

Vivid colour is not usually a feature of my photographic image-making, but the high-energy scene presented here tells it like it was in Victoria Street a couple of days ago. And, as the job edges closer to completion, the validity of the old eighty/twenty rule is aptly illustrated.

Click on the link here to read my earlier story, Quake-risk portico: going, going, … posted on 26 January 2015.

Quake-risk portico: going, going, ... (26 January 2015)

Quake-risk portico: going, going, … (26 January 2015)

Quake-risk portico: going, going, …

Quake-risk portico: going, going, ... (26 January 2015)

Quake-risk portico: going, going, … (26 January 2015)

Civic Square portico. Photo credit: Chris Skelton, Fairfax NZ

Civic Square portico. Photo credit: Chris Skelton, Fairfax NZ

In early November 2014, work began on “A tricky $1 million project to demolish Wellington’s 500-tonne Civic Square portico …” (see DominionPost story by Hank Schouten). The contract, awarded to Arrow International, was scheduled to be completed by 23 January, according to Wellington City Council building resilience manager Neville Brown. And it’s nearly done – as my photo (above) shows.

“The Portico was built in 1992 as part of the Civic Square redevelopment. The Council decided to remove it after an engineering assessment deemed it earthquake-prone and a quake hazard to the buildings it links” (see Wellington.Scoop story by Lindsay Shelton).

Dating from what Maximus, writing in The Eye of the Fish, described as “Athfield Architects more vigorously civic days”, the black concrete, steel and glass two-level span was designed to enclose Civic Square by linking the Civic Administration Building and Wellington Central Library.

Maximus continues: “The area we now know as Civic Square was once an ordinary street, with a lot of car parking for City Council workers. As part of the creation of a Civic precinct in the late 80s / early 90s, the road was closed, City to Sea bridge built, the old Library converted into the City Gallery, a new magnificent Library building built, and the Council’s civic chambers extended to wrap around the whole. A portico over the gateway entrance to the newly pedestrian used square proudly proclaimed to all who could read the urban signs, that ‘this be land of the people’ and cars were forevermore buried underground.”

Later in his piece, Maximus explains why the thing has had to come down: “… in the case of a decent sized earthquake, this portico would act like a giant battering ram, and pulverize the other buildings into dust, or something like that, involving calculations of structural resonance and adequacy of seismic movement joints. I dunno the exact reasons why – you’ll have to ask an engineer – but it means it has gone from being a useful thing to a very bad thing, and it must be destroyed.”