Some thoughts

These are random, but as the site is again gaining momentum (strange watching visitor numbers fluctuate), I’ll add some other food for thought. I’m not saying they are relevant here, but to my mind all design is about the synthesis of ideas, from whatever source. So why not look at what else is being done and are these relevant to us or not.

The first I will just briefly talk about is old Carisbrook.

To my thinking modern stadiums have no place in a suburban setting. There are of course exceptions to this, where redevelopment has been restricted etc. I will never be convinced that Eden Park should have been redeveloped where it is, and in that form. Highbury, the home of Arsenal football stadium, has recently been redeveloped in a two-stage process. Arsenal and its financial backers were looking to house a champion side (ow that hurts to say that) in a modern new facility, with all of the bells and whistles which go with it, not to mention larger capacity. Arsenal (like most clubs in the UK) is located in a suburban location in North London, this is its major restriction, but was turned into its advantage.

The club built a new stadium at Ashburton Grove is an industrial plot of land just 500 metres from the old stadium. The new stadium is big, it’s brash and it’s also by HOK (Dunedin Stadium architects). Putting its architectural integrity aside, it’s regarded as a wonderful place to watch sport.

What did Arsenal do with the old stadium?

Simple, they are turning the old Art Deco structure into an apartment complex, with the insular looking nature of the complex to its advantage and redeveloped, the pitch into an Eden, an apartment common. All of the complex’s apartments have sold out, and this development is actually making the club money.

I’m not saying that Carisbrook is good for anything in its current form. It doesn’t have the stunning Art Deco architecture of the old Highbury, which is an advantage as Art Deco is among other things a very strong dwelling architectural language; it lent itself to this redevelopment almost immediately, and some bright spark saw that.

Now of course, Carisbrook will never be turned into luxury apartments, so what can we do with the land? A favourite saying of mine is the old, “we are limited only by our imagination”, and I believe that we are very much in that situation. This is a pretty prime piece of land (not in absolute value), but in size and location. It’s suburban, it’s in a lower socio-economic area, and there are shortages of accommodation in South Dunedin. Granny flats would be a disaster, but why not adventure into the social engineering and look at stunningly designed and landscaped low cost housing? There is a history in New Zealand of pioneering in this area, with the likes of Athfield’s work in and around Wellington providing immediate reference. Also the council flats in Upper Riccarton in Christchurch are another fine example.

This part of town will always be home to a mix of young and old people. Play on that, include in the redevelopment amenities that will foster the youth of the area to be active citizens of the area, skate park etc.

I’m not saying it’s what should be there, but there is no reason that social housing shouldn’t be considered worthy of architectural integrity; in fact, they are the very reason why architectural rigour shouldn’t be applied to this. And I am talking about the total built environment, landscape and surrounds included. The apartment developments within the lands of the University of British Columbia are a stunning example of the integration of housing and social space through landscape architecture, there are references points over the entire world.

This is just one suggestion for this area, I hope many people have more ideas. I mean the actual geography of the area is also fascinating, this could be an inspiration for something too. Or failing that, what’s wrong with a modern technology/industry park. The back of the site is already that, the front is suburban.

I’d love to hear people’s opinions for what we can do there. Don’t bother posting if your suggestion is to slap lipstick on the old dear and call it a stadium. I’m working from the assumption that it’s gone, and what can we do with it now.

Some links: http://www.designbuild-network.com/projects/ashburton/

Posted by Paul Le Comte

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14 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Carisbrook, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Innovation, Inspiration, Name, New Zealand, People, Project management, Property, Site, Stadiums, Town planning, Urban design

14 responses to “Some thoughts

  1. Peter Entwisle

    Well, I and others are not working on your assumption, which I’m glad to see you describe as such. Contrary to some people’s beliefs the councils haven’t voted unconditional support for Awatea Street – they’ve just given it a bit more rope.

    However, if it did go ahead there would be no spare council cash around for at least 20 years so Carisbrook wouldn’t have the benefit of any assistance from those sources. So what would happen?

    Whatever happens Carisbrook will soon be registered as a category 1 histoic place. Contrary to what some people think that won’t mean the preservation of all the structures now on the site but it will constrain redevelopment – any redevelopment. I think it’s a bit unlikely that any developers will come along with the sort of ideas in mind you describe. But if the city didn’t tie up its money in Awatea Street it would have the funds to build a new stadium on the Carisbrook site.

  2. Cheers Peter.

    My inclusion of the Highbury redevelopment was to show one extreme development.

    Historic Places Trust restrictions don’t actually mean no redevelopment, it just means developers need to be creative. There are numerous examples of category 1 buildings being redeveloped and treated with innovation and sensitivity.

    I wasn’t calling for any part of Carisbrook to be preserved, it’s quite simply too ugly. The land itself isn’t that valuable, but it is a large chunk of land and that in itself throws possibilities.

    The council won’t also use up all of it’s reserves completely, and that is also working on the assumptions of the present economic conditions. Sure there is a risk that there will be a downturn and further strain on the council’s budget. But if history and economics are going to show us anything, these are not the norm (short term) for economic development, and we really do have to work on the assumption that economic development will increase, thus council reserves not strained.

    Does the situation you describe, then lend itself to private developers picking up the slack and pushing forward for public/private development partnerships?

  3. Peter

    I would like to see Carisbrook demolished and replaced either by a technology business park or an extension of the Hillside workshops — with the govt buy-back of rail, expansion of Hillside would be a great opportunity to consolidate rolling stock in Dunedin and provide a wider base for local engineering firms.

  4. Peter Entwisle

    “The council won’t use up all of its reserves completely.”

    Athol Stephens, the council’s finance guy, a man I know a little and respect for his honesty and integrity – and also his realism, has made it clear to council that the project on its present costings will probably reduce its present credit rating. He has said it’s so tight that even $10 or $20m would make a very big difference – the reason the councillors put in a condition about finding an extra $20m in non-council funding, apart from what is presently proposed. (That condition is only one unlikely to be met if the council stays honest.)

    Reserves? People have talked about selling off the social housing. Trouble is the government requires any such funds to be used supplying more social housing. There’s the Waipori Fund but its capital is supposed to stay intact. There’s City Forests, where the returns are low but the asset is large. It’s been suggested the forests should be sold off – after all the jobs would still stay here whoever owned them – and the capital re-invested in something which produced more income. Obviously an Awatea Street stadium wouldn’t be that but a greater income flow would help pay the costs of servicing its loans and operating it.

    But the real point then is why bother? The public goods and downstream economic benefits are simply not great enough.

    A number of the above suggestions would probably founder anyway for political reasons – the public woouldn’t contemplate them.

    Also, the city is now near the most expensive part of its water and sewage systems upgrade. It will continue to spend big money on that for several years which is why Awatea Street on its present costings will lower the city’s credit rating.

    However, almost nobody believes the project’s present costings. Not the peer reviewers, Nicola Holman or Robert Hamlin. Hamlin has done two reports pointing out how the CST’s figures are flawed.

    If the stadium goes ahead the city’s $91.4m, the regional council’s $37.5m and the community trust’s $10m could all be spent and the stadium be left less than half finished. The true cost of completing it could be anywhere between $250m and $400m and the lower of those figures would get the city into difficulties.

    What would happen? Rates and charges would have to go up and people and businesses would likely depart.

    Well of course there might be another gold rush. Oil might be found in the Great South Basin. Or, or or?
    You get my drift.

    The present recession doesn’t worry me much. I personally would like to see Dunedin’s economy and population buoyed up by some new development. But I don’t think you can premiss civic spending on the assumption that will happen.

    If the proposed stadium offered greater public good and downstream economic benefits – and if it had a really amazing design – I might be tempted to take the risk but not as things stand. It’s just too many bucks for too little bang so it’s not worth staking the house on it.

    A technology business park for Carisbrook? I have no objection to that except it seems to me a good site for building a cheaper stadium. Which we’ll probably need when the Awatea Street idea goes south.

  5. Anne Elliot

    Compie said,

    …I wasn’t calling for any part of Carisbrook to be preserved, it’s quite simply too ugly.

    Are you aware that the proposed stadium will be built to cost, not design (Farry). What will this mean? Anybody’s guess but unlikely to be pretty! And definitely not like any of the pictures on this site.

  6. Leon Willis

    This is a bit off topic but why is a website about the Dunedin Stadium (Carisbrook) got a banner displaying the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. I mean it is a nice stadium but wouldn’t a picture of the Dunedin Stadium be more appropriate?

  7. Anne Elliot

    It would, except nobody knows what it would look like as cost is of the essence, not design.

    However, I quite like nice pictures, and there are quite some on this site.

  8. Leon

    It was initially a protest against the design of the Stadium, but then I’m just such a huge fan, and it’s the up there with some of my fav buildings now.

    Anne, I feel that you are actually being just a little too cynical. Those are indeed the plans and designs which HOK and CST are working on at the moment.

    Yes I am aware that they will be working to cost, but in this negative media flooded time, there are numerous buildings, stadiums, civic projects all into their hundreds of millions of dollars which are all coming within budget these days. What’s to say our new stadium won’t be.

    If we are given the choice between being positive and looking forward, or to be negative and throwing up barriers, doesn’t it make the day happier if we look for the positives?

    As stated, I don’t like the design they have proposed, but at least it’s not like some of the bubble gum – disney like baseball stadiums they have designed in the states. I wish it was different, but I can live with it.

    I would have liked to have seen an architectural competition held for the design of this. Who knows what you would have got.

  9. Anne Elliot

    Hi Compie

    I am someone ‘sensitive’ to the way things look. I get no pleasure out of ‘ugly’. I can live with ‘functional’ if it is fit for purpose and materials chosen as well as style are commensurate with ‘functional.’ Often these requirements are not blended to achieve something pleasant.

    The size of the proposed stadium is such that it could end up a very big eye sore. I would find that hard to bear forever and a day.

  10. Paul Campbell

    well at least it wont be painted bright orange …. or maybe it will once we find out what the name is that replaces ‘Carisbrook’ – one of the weird things about stadiums in the US is that they change their names every few years as companies come and go

  11. Tim M

    Building new at Awatea Street is not a good idea. When this project was formally announced in 2006, estimated costs were between $150 and $180 million. Now the higher of those is the accepted cost (actually $188 million), and apparently Malcolm Farry always meant those figures as 2011 dollars, which drives the cost up even more. And they have not yet broken ground!!

    Here are some questions I have yet to see addressed anywhere:

    Who owns the stadium upon completion? My understanding is that the trust owning it will remain in private hands under the control of the private individuals. Is that true? If the Council (i.e., the public who is expected to put up a substantial portion of funds) retains a proportional ownership, will the Council receive a proportional share of profits (if any)?

    What happened to the international design competition originally envisioned?

    One gets the feeling that this whole project was a foregone conclusion in the minds of a few to be thrust down the throats and at the expense of the many. Such it often is with stadia. Get the project started, then there’s no turning back.

  12. Peter

    Tim M, I suggest you visit the Dunedin city council website and look under the projects tab for information on Awatea Street. CST will not own the stadium nor will it be under the control of private hands. Also your dollars are just plain wrong — when the proposal was announced in 2006 two costs were given — the $188m was the cheaper by about $15m (by memory). The 2011 $ claim relates to the fact that a $20m contingency exists within the construction costs to meet inflationary pressure. HOK is an established reputable international firm and well capable of designing buildings within requiredd budgets.

  13. Tim

    Cheers for commenting.

    Since I am not a member of the CST, just a fan of the idea of a stadium, I don’t have the answers as to the future ownership of the stadium, nor does that bother me in any way shape or form.

    As to the cost, $180m has been set for a long time now, and of course there is an over run buffer. I believe that $180+ is an absolute bargain for a fully roofed modern stadium capable of 30,000 people. There’s possibly nothing like it globally, we are getting one heck of a bargain.

    However, even if the final cost is $200m, that is nothing compared to the wacko claims of the anti-stadium people who have put figures of up to $450m. For $450m I’d be wanting something half as spectacular as the new Emirates Stadium in North London. But as we all know this figure will never be reached.

    It astounds me that the anti-stadium people somehow know more about the cost of the stadium than the developers and architects. HOK Sport are possibly the best global team of stadium architects ever. If they give you a quoted price for a stadium, that’s the price. Not 1.5 times greater of twice the price. Sure there are accountants and other sceptics whom claim that it can’t be built for that price, but they are biased. Biased assumptions for accountancy always create the figures you want to see, not what they actually are. It amazes me that people are also willing to accept the word of those against the stadium as opposed to those doing the sums, who know the actual costs.

    What is it about the Kiwi psyche that we don’t trust anyone? I mean what purpose do they have in lying to us about the cost. If they beg for $180m but all along know that the cost will be $450m, do they really think they will be bailed out. There are some pretty astounding hypothetical what-if’s proposed by the Anti lobby. It is very possible that the council can’t and won’t bail them out if that was the case, and of course the bitter and twisted buggers who live in this town would gather up a posy and run them out of town (although they want to do that now).

    As for the international design competition? I never hear of such a comp, I was always in favour of one, but never assumed it was happening, it was just something I was talking about on this blog.

    If we had such a competition, there is no guarantee that we would have got a stadium that we could have afforded.

    As for the answers to you questions, why don’t you email the CST, their web site has a contact section. They’ve been excellent in getting back to me. Wouldn’t hurt.

  14. Cheers Peter I wasn’t sure of the ownership question.

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