(just DCC resource management planners with no design training, and use of the odd ‘consulting architect’ who lamely fails to press that architectural details be made “right”, lest they upset “the boys”—be they lousy small-time architects (as opposed to REAL DESIGN ARCHITECTS), architectural designers, draftsmen, builders, property developers or investors). Our kindom, for a City Architect —to compile and enforce design guidelines, and through district plan mechanisms, to require the use of registered architects by developers working in important townscape precincts like George Street, and to shove an unforgiving multidisciplinary Urban Design Panel at the buggers.
No. 1 —Apartments, 581 George Street
We’re all familiar with Farry’s Motel, now Farry’s Motel Apartments at 575 George Street. The complex used to look out on a green area, and vehicle parking with mature trees and shrubbery at 581.
Malcolm Farry recently sold the properties at 575 and 581 to Ethel Limited, a family company led by Frank Cazemier who has worked for Cutlers as a “University Investment Sales Specialist”. A cursory check of directorships at the NZ Companies Office website shows Cazemier is “one of the boys”. Pity he knows next to nothing about contextual commercial residential design, architectural bulk and location, facade modulation, sun angles, or landscape architecture —such that can’t be solved by ready trees.
Farry’s Motel Apartments now looks out on a poorly designed featureless boundary fence, and the sobering double block of apartments ‘next door’ at 581. The block furthest from the street (walls of light blue), when seen from driveways to either side, reveals a ‘long elevation’ running parallel to George Street that resembles a jerry-built, badly-windowed reclad of a tired country hall (the low, horizontally-orientated fenestration allows for another floor of rooms above, in the roofspace).
The marketing statement for Farry’s Motel Apartments at 575 still says:
“Set alongside a large grassed area that provides a playground and picnic spots, we are one of the most centrally located Dunedin motels, offering an absolutely superb main street position.”
This is no longer the case.
The very likely expensive exercise in ‘infill design’ (intensification/ densification…) issued from the drawing board of Bill Henderson, Architect of (fuck-a-daisy)WANAKA —someone who appears to work at the ‘cheap-looking’ end of the market, or at least has diminished design flare, poor knowledge of scale detail and proportion, and lack of expertise in three-dimensional architectural composition. As a result, and while meeting planning criteria for the zone, the motels/apartments at 575 and 581 now look about fit for student stays only, or at a pinch, the G&T parents of capping graduands. No fear, the new apartments will be mouth-wateringly expensive to rent. The student ghetto continues, behind the tacky dress-up to George Street.
Incidently, Farry’s operates a charge back system with the former Farry-owned Cargill’s Hotel, now Quality Hotel Cargills at 686 George Street.
No. 2 —Apartments, 2 St David Street, cnr George Street
There used to be a nice old single-storey bungalow with fine curving bay windows and a palm tree on this site, next to Quality Hotel Cargills. Only the palm tree remains. The bungalow became victim to an excavator. It isn’t clear if the windows and internal period joinery (if still present) were dismantled for re-use.
The site is now owned by Newmarket Investments Limited and has been recently developed for apartments. The company directors are Clive Hewitson and wife Wendy May Hewitson. Clive Hewitson’s profile at LinkedIn says: “Director – Otago & Southland, New Zealand | Real Estate”. Hewitson is another of the “boys”, as records at the NZ Companies Office show. Some link up in the past with companies of which Frank Cazemier (mentioned above) has also been a director.
The apartment complex is faced, not too convincingly, in ‘red brick’ – at first glance, no-one can tell if it’s real brick facing or veneer! Questionable are the lack of reveals, and the scale and position of openings (doors and windows) in the street elevations; with tweaking to proportions and placements this could have solved. The glazing bars are wrong. Small frosted bathroom and toilet windows to the street (on the public face of your building) are a No-no. The shallowness of the gables to the street elevations, also grates in perspective. The grey wooden pickets added to the base of the original garden fence are odd. The whole is unnecessarily dreary. Taxi drivers hate it. The pencil cypresses may provide a foil, once mature (the building really needs one hell of a lot of ivy). Have to admit, designing anything between Quality Hotel Cargills and Econo Lodge Alcala is a free-for-all, BUT why not try…
Why didn’t Quality Hotel Cargills buy 2 St David Street to take control of the prominent corner to George Street? We note Dunedin architect Hamish Wixon is a director/shareholder of 678 George Street Limited and Cargills Hotel Limited. Perhaps we can look forward to developments at the tired Cargills…
Strategic Site: 715 George Street, cnr Regent Road
Can we possibly imagine what will get built on the site of the former BP 2go Regent service station? Another horror story? Another ‘architectual’ (sic) bodice-ripper? 715 is owned by Northfield Property and Investment Company Limited. The sole director is Bryan Howard Usher of Dunedin.
Post and building images by Elizabeth Kerr