A study of Site

Ok, misquoting The Doors’ Jim Morrison in his song by the same name from the Waiting for the Sun album, or indeed alluding to that architectural maxim of ‘touching the earth lightly’, there has been criticism of the new stadium designs by some that “The revised ‘building’ is a large ‘tent’, there’s no other word for it.” {Ian Smith, renowned old codger}. Others have suggested that the new stadium blocks the people from the Water of Leith and Waterfront, and for this alone it’s an affront to the people of Dunedin (whom apparently have this close connection to industrial landscapes and concrete encased waterways).

From the start I must remind you that the original intention for this blog, was to be critical of the design with the hope that they will come up with something more stunning. I was hoping that the likes of a Lord Foster could be tempted here to take up the design challenge – and then my cat awoke me from my day dream. I’m still not a huge fan of the design, but it has come a long way from the original renderings, and despite what others say, it does not destroy the connection to the Leith that others allude to. It is what it is, a sports/entertainment complex, with some nice subtle touches and appropriate dose of brutality giving a stadium what it should have, a sense of enormity and occasion.

So let’s have a look at the current surrounds of the two areas and buildings. What is so special about the two that one requires the virtual preservation of an ageing make-piece stadium, while a hands off attitude to a polluted and inaccessible [stream] is deemed good for the people of Dunedin at the other site.

One an industrial wasteland where decrepit and bygone go hand in hand with walls and barbed wire fences, the other… well it’s exactly the same.


It’s a nice start at least, great graffiti near Carisbrook brings life to a very drab post industrial wasteland where scrap is gold, for both the Railway yards and the scrap yard, unfortunately not for the Otago Rugby Union.

Ok, that’s not fair, a railway over bridge is hardly Carisbrook’s fault. So what about the current stadium is worth keeping…?



Some have suggested that fuel storage tanks near the new stadium could serve as a target for terrorism. How about the huge sub station within the grounds of Carisbrook, they make one heck of a mess if blown up, and I can’t see the flimsy wooden palings holding out much of a resistance.


Still it could be worse, there could be massive great factories with hollowed out shells of train carriages for the patrons to view.


If they need a bed after the game, the current site is more than accommodating.


Nobody could tell me that the current building is a picture of architectural brilliance that should be saved.


If only this was the Centre national d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, alas


There’s some nice shrubbery around the back (if you are a colonialist that is and gorse is your thing).


Still if the staircase to nowhere isn’t your thing, there are the doors to nowhere. These are both historic and an art installation, or indeed like the Tardis, if you could get through the incredibly small openings you’d be treated to the vast emptiness of under the stand.


They are quite cool really and are a link to the past.


People must have been much slimmer back in the day…


They are great though aren’t they…


There’s a little bit of architectural symmetry at the end of the stand.


Someone slapped on a pretty ugly impenetrable massive wall all the length of one stand. Yet another architectural add-on to the mishmash that is Carisbrook.


And yet another stadium style


and another, I like this pic, could be any old grey English football stand from the lower divisions.


Still, its important to see the advertising from across the stadium and in the railway yards.


of course there’s the surrounding areas that aren’t industrial wastelands, there’s residential buildings.


So that’s the current rugby stadium, what about the new stadium’s surrounds and the current access to the Water of Leith. Remember many have criticised the stadium for showing a massive ugly back to the Leith, this is insulting to the people of Dunedin. So if you were to walk down the opposite bank of the Leith and look to where the stadium will be, this is the back you see at the moment.


yeah these are so inviting and vibrant at the moment. Like the way they lightly touch the earth, they mould into the surrounding location and speak to the stunning architectural heritage that is Dunedin.


Looking at what will be the back of the stadium, at least this building plays with some iconic kiwi materials.


They have a shed out the back with a working toilet though, that’s handy…


There’s a pile of interesting rubbish, I like the cross-stitch Pluto dog.


You could even find parts for that troublesome motor of yours.


Some buildings only need a lick of paint here and there, and some wall panels, and a door not scorched and some glass, but that’s cosmetic really.


A little unfair I know, so back to the connection by the people to the Water of Leith. Presently if you were to travel down past ANZAC Ave and turn into this area, the closest you get to the Leith here is via these walls. You can actually see right through if the doors are open.


Still it could be worse, there might just be massive concrete walls between the street and the Leith…



There’s somewhere to keep your icecream cold…


and more utility buildings with barbed wire…


some don’t quite speak industry or architectural heritage, somewhat utilitarian in their construct…


some speak a little more to the industrial area


some really speak to this…


Some not only speak to the industrial past of this city, they come with smell-a-vision in the form of sheep-o-rama…


Actually this building is has a proud history and has served the Otago region proudly. This is however the face it presents to the Leith…


there’s a nice wall to place some modern art on…


at least it’s facing the Leith, rather civic minded of them to have that art facing the river.

I do like this view though


the infamous connection to the Leith and the Waterfront is even stretched a little though by the local yacht club. Nice views of the Peninsula Hills though….


Some have objected to the ‘University Creep’ that they see worrying. Looking back up the Leith, this is how the University and Polytechnic look and connect to the Leith. At least it’s more alive.


There’s some classic University buildings that at least speak to the concrete architectural heritage of the New Zealand modernist movement.


Not all the buildings surrounding the Leith speak to the surrounds, however they have become target practice for the Giant Albatross that make Dunedin such a famous tourist trap. This is what you see if you were walking to the new stadium across the Leith. Some buildings just talk to the surrounds more than others eh?


others have just been peppered by smaller seagulls…


There’s a reference to the transport history of Dunedin….


and reference to bygone era of industry


but in the end it too is a none too hospitable industrial landscape and not the mystical connection to the Water of Leith or Waterfront that we have been warned that will be lost if we build the new stadium.



Could be worse, the stadium could be destroying thriving industrial land.

–Paul Le Comte

14 responses to “A study of Site

  1. Great pics!
    You should submit some to the South Dunedin group on Flickr.

  2. Cheers guys. 2009 will be morphing this site into a wider discussion of the built environment of Dunedin, in which I will be looking for guest authors etc to contribute to – may even set up new site for that, this is too political. Long story short, I have hundreds of images of the physical manifestation of ‘Dunedin’.

  3. Elizabeth

    Sounds good!

  4. Paul

    The shells of the ex British carraqiges at the back of Hillside are being rebuilt for commuter use in Auckland and Wellington and who cares about such a view, rugbyheads barely notice it anyway, probably conrtibuting to trashing the roads as they drop cans and bottles forthwith, so why worry that the surrounds for people going to this game are not more exquisite for these hooting, hollering bawling premevil people and their like seemingly godly game that is the main crux of so called justification at spending $188 mill plus.
    Perhaps those shells of carrages are a message, we should be doing up a few for ourselves, investment of money it this sort of infrastructure is 188 million times more constructive and useful than buidling another sdadouim when Carsibrook suffices, Edgar centre looks after other sports and indoor. Musicwise, well, maybe Daniel o Donell will call by if we have the new stadium?
    Rock, what have we had here in the last few years. Little River Band – almost filled the Town Hall. Hot Chocolate – half filled the Regent.
    Not enough population to support it, and maybe the fact Air NZ are cutting Transtasman flights is a message, depite advertising the planes are half empty, oh, pessimistic? Realistic. the planes are not filling, are they?

  5. Paul, this was a response to the criticism at the time that the new stadium would act as a barrier to the Water of the Leith. Seemingly at the moment people are ‘connected’ to the Leith at this area (another myth).

    I know the carriages are being done up for Auckland, a success story that business, that’s why I included it, juxtaposition of the old becoming the new and all that, but never mind, it’s lost on some people.

    Cheers for stopping by though

  6. Paul J

    Don’t try the ‘lost on some people’ tactic, your purport was clear, now you try a patronizing deviation to that, it doesn’t do you any favours.

    I notice your comment on the Brook’s corporate lounge as being a building not worth saving. I see little to differ from that and the stadium, just plain ugly architecture. It goes well with the aptly depicted, monochrome pic of the stadium with dark clouds though. However, the difference is, that the Brook lounge, along with new terraces was built for millions of dollars just a few years ago, it is barely at the start of its economic life, so use it, stop thinking the city should be ripped off just because a few rugby heads with a fetish for stadia think every other worthwhile and dare I say imaginative, innovative project should be abandoned because of it.
    The crass arrogance and dictatrixes selfishness of a few utter dip****s, including those who got into power are truly astounding.

    Some people are born into mediocrity,
    Some people achieve mediocrity,
    While most of us have it forced upon us.

    No wonder there’s bored kids out there who race cars, or jump around on skateboards, bored out of their skulls, there’s nothing to do in this city! A fraction of 200 million dispersed could rectify that!

  7. Nice exceedingly over simplification of the issues surrounding some kids issues in this city.

    It’s a shame that people seem willing to ‘label’ boy and girl racers as bored out of their brains. It’s very nice to label people just because you don’t get or agree with what they are doing.

    Funny, I know many skateboarders and funny enough, they aren’t bored, they are actually participating in a physical activity, which has a culture and a life style all of its own.

    Don’t come around this place preaching your moralist rants to us. If you had any understanding of the social and political interactions within this city you would of course be dangerous.

    If you are having mediocrity forced upon you, who’s the fool now?

  8. Paul Jeffery

    You’ve got a good play with sentences to try twist facts and shoot the obvious truth down with your attempted belittling, vitriolic condescend, warped and fired back in some sort of self serving defence mechanism. So, you endorse boy racers, or something? Oh, well, ok, most people don’t, for all the common sense reasons, but just as most people see sense and consider building a jumbo priced stadium as crazy, so the same support here is no surprise, really. I think the labelling things as you accuse me of, fits you well, anyone who knocks the stadium in any way shape of form, somehow comes quickly to mind with regular diatribe load of BS. The social and political implications you so support and try call democratic are the dangerous ones, but of course, you and your cult minority are oblivious to that, if ignorance was bliss you’d be in seventh heaven.
    As for who’s the fool bit, just because we lost to a foul ball played doesn’t make us the fool. It’s well known justice or truth often doesn’t prevail.
    It’s called tall poppy syndrome, attack the people who in this case might just be average sized poppies, but cut ’em down, they’ve got better ideas for the stadium price.
    People like you are so annoying when you can’t see the light! For most, that, in this scenario is not just subjective either…

    {This is a vague improvement on your last post. Relax of a Friday. EK}

  9. Adrian

    This is just a great photo essay.

  10. Adrian, thanks very much for that. I am very much an amateur photographer, but I do like looking at my surroundings, and trying to convey what I see to other people.


  11. Olly

    I have to say I agree with Paul (not paul jefrey). I like how you in no way mentioned sport or argued for or against it as I feel Dunedin will benefit from this stadium regardless of what/who is played there. Imagine sending tourists for the world cup (who will go home and tell people whether or not Dunedin is worth visiting) to Caversham. At least the connection between the stadium and the university may pull the wool over the eyes of some tourists as to how scummy Dunedin is. Im a fourth year med student here and I skate (what a doosh to say skating is boring obviously cant do it) and love sport excited bout the new stadium and really appreciated your aesthetic opinions of it. (as I am not ignorant to the importance of design/exciting design in a large scale project like this)

    Thanks for this loved the industrial shots reminded me of semi abandoned northern english ship building towns.

  12. Stu

    I was looking from the eastern end the other day towards the University plaza building and wondering if the University had missed an opportunity by not putting large windows at the rear. Would have formed the perfect “University corporate box” looking out over the “Scarfie Stand”.

  13. nwp90

    Agree about the old turnstiles being worth keeping. I’d also vote for the gents toilets between the Main Stand and Neville St. Stand. Always wanted to take a photo of them (with floodlight on above), but without patrons… unfortunately never had the opportunity.

  14. Brilliant! An excellent run down (or should that be run up) of the saga of the transfer from Carisbrook to the Forsyth Barr Stadium. But is it worth $250 million plus $20m pa running costs ? That is the question!

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