Archive for September, 2009

Three Parks Big Box Retail Park

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Yesterday I presented at the Plan Change Hearing for Three Parks in Wanaka. It is dissapointing that a local developer and the Queenstown Lakes District Council would entertain the retail park concept for Wanaka. I think it shows a severe lack of appreciation and understanding of what Wanaka is about. Wanaka is a world class destination that attracts people to a stunning setting that supports a laid back social scene devoid of the consumer mentallity. One of the common reasons you hear that people are attracted to live or holiday in Wanaka is that there is a real sense of community and that life is somewhat simpler and easier without the corporate retailers encouraging everybody to keep up with the Joneses. Splitting the town centre into two and creating separate tourist and local sectors will severely impact on our community. Wanaka needs to maintain its point of diference to Queenstown, having choices is what makes this region unique, Wanaka, Queenstown, Arrowtown and Frankton are all attractions in their own right, it would be foolish to try become a clone of Queenstown.

Shakey Ground

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Having grown up in Wellington I am quite used to experiencing earthquakes, once they start I actually find the anticipation of what will happen next quite exciting. Recent quakes felt in Wanaka have been silent, rolling and long lasting, quite different from the usual rumble and hard shake. Local builders involved in recent repair work comment how modern polymer modified external render on polystyrene has held up much better than the traditional 20mm cement render, so I guess there is one positive for the modern ‘chilly bin’ houses that are spreading around suburbia. I read with interest that an international group of scientists are looking at drilling 4 to 5km into the South Island Alpine fault to monitor the activity of rock movement prior to an earthquake. The fault generally moves about 27mm a year but the group believe there is a good chance of a major rupture in the next 20 years. They say major quakes can rupture up to 8m and have typically occurred every 200 – 400 years with the last in the alps being in 1717. The local engineers get a bit of a hard time about some of the engineering that goes into local buildings, but there is a reason for it, how much damage do you want to risk on your investment?

The Weather

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

My brother always says that if he wanted to talk about the weather he would have called my mum. But living here at the base of the alps the weather has a massive impact on how we work and play. I have had one of the most enjoyable ski seasons in years, but from one week to the next its either severe winter conditions or warm and spring like. The beginning of the winter was dry with months of frosts reaching -7 degrees C in the early evening, and lately we have had warm sunny days followed by days of rain and snow. It seems we are witnessing changing patterns and extremes in weather the scientists have been predicting. To cope with this our buildings need to be more robust and cleverly designed to provide the durability and comfort that we require. The careful consideration of what materials, mass, insulation and glazing to use and how we place these can provide huge benefits and value for money as well as providing an environment that is pleasing or uplifting. There is a definite benefit in spending time at the early stage of the design to analyse how the functions and desires of the project will be affected by all the influences on the site. Allowing for the changes in climatic context provide a particular challenge but should be manageable with a bit of thought.