Wellington Architecture: A Walking Guide reveals fascinating stories about the buildings of the capital and the architects who designed them. One of the five self-guided routes runs along the waterfront, where author John Walsh shows a treasure trove of architectural gems.
Wellington Harbor Te Wanganui a Tara is one of New Zealand’s finest construction sites and one of the country’s finest architectural routes.
Several Maori settlements – Pipitea marae and Kumutoto and Te Aro kainga – occupied the southwestern part of the harbor when British colonists arrived there in 1840 and began collecting their rudimentary vaults and vaults.
Ten years later the colonists had already finished the plain around the area they called Lambton Harbor. The obvious solution was reclamation, and over the next 130 years Wellington expanded its urban area and, most importantly, its port, gnawing at the sea.
Most recently, when the port signed a contract, it handed over surplus land for commercial and residential development and recreation. As a result, Wellington, unlike other major New Zealand cities, now has a waterfront that is widely accessible to all. It’s not just the harbor that is open for viewing – a century and a half of Wellington’s maritime architecture is also on display.
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A good place to start an architectural walk along the promenade is “Head 7”, a very common name given to a very grand brick building, which previously housed the offices and Woolstore of Wellington Harbor.
For a century of its existence before its abolition in the 1980s, the Harbor Council was at least equal in civilian importance to Wellington City Council. The board named all the shots on the waterfront, and its buildings signaled their power.
The Harbor Board office, which opened in 1896, was designed by a firm headed by Frederick de Jersey Claire, one of Wellington’s leading architects in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Claire gave the wedge-shaped Harbor Board Wharf Office and Woolstore a neoclassical Italian style. One of the distinctive features of the building is the protruding bay at the southeast corner – the perch from which the berth, or the wharf chief, could watch the wharves united in the union.
Further along the waterfront, heading south, the 1886 building is a testament to Victorian appetite for male companionship and energetic relaxation. The Star Boating Club was the third building of the rowing club, founded in 1866. The club was forced to abandon the two previous buildings as reclamation of the harbor made them tall and dry. This time the architect William Chatfield secured the future premises of the club by designing a wooden building on a sleigh that could be pulled towards the sea in case of further stranding.
Both the Star Boating Club and its neighbor and near-contemporary, the Wellington Rowing Club, had ties to late nineteenth-century police units, the Submarine Volunteer Corps, and the Naval Artillery Volunteer Corps, respectively. They were afraid that the Russians could come any day. If they dared to go to Wellington Harbor, the volunteer gunners would head out of the Wellington Rowing Club tower.
While Wellington settlers and their descendants based their presence on the waterfront in buildings that expressed the local evolution of international design styles – neoclassical, French Second Empire, fictional Tudor, art deco and, ultimately, post-modern – there was no architecture Maori. harbor before the construction of Te Wharewaka o Pōneke in 2011.
Designed by Stuart Gardine of Architecture +, Te Wharewaka, as its name suggests, is a place for the eye, and also features a café and functional center. The most striking element of the building, introduced by Maori architect Mike Barnes, is the steel roof, shot over the structure by triangular folds. The design hints at a loaf or cloak, a protective layer corresponding to the windy shore of Te Wanganui-a-Tara.
On the east side of Te-Papa the promenade will pass by the former post and telegraph building Herd Street, which now houses apartments and commercial rentals at street level. The building, which was completed in 1939, was an important project of the first Labor government and the very able architect Edmund Anscombe.
Relying on 600 concrete piles driven 12 feet into the ground, the post office and telegraph building on Heard Street originally had five floors. There was also a tennis court for rooftop staff. The sixth floor was replaced by a tennis court during World War II, and a penthouse was added when the building was converted into an apartment almost 20 years ago.
Enscomb’s virtuoso treatment of the main entrance in the south-west corner of the building – a granite doorway topped by a tiered window with a bay window and a closed roller top in the Art Deco style – has undergone a restructuring of the early twenty-first century.
Freiberg’s pool is one of the options for the end of the tour in the harbor. The Art Nouveau building opened in 1963, almost 60 years ago, but it still looks clear and clean. Without this it is difficult to imagine Wellington Quay. The pool was designed by Jason Lewis Smith of King & Dawson and honors the memory of Bernard Freiberg, governor-general and war hero, who in his youth was the champion of swimming in the old baths of Te Aro, the predecessor of the building. him.