It’s amusing to hear that twenty-one Auckland architects have signed a letter protesting the demolition of the Queens Wharf cargo sheds, otherwise known as eyesores in the face of one of the world’s great harbours.
It’s amusing for one reason, because they say these eyesores are in fact “among the few good examples of early industrial architecture left in Auckland.” They call them “noble,” without any hint of a wink. That’s highly amusing.
And it’s amusing for another reason because of the eight architects listed by the Herald as having signed the letter, at least four of them sent designs into the original Queens Wharf ‘Party Central’ competition (Gordon Moller was so excited he sent in two entries), at least three were slated to be part of the second stage once the competition winners were thrown out, and at least two were seriously upset to later get canned.
Not one of them, at any stage, in any of their designs, retained the sheds.
Yet now they’re all bemoaning their demolition.
Can anyone spell “sour grapes”?
Or is this just twenty-one under-employed architects saying a very loud “Gizza job.”
PS: For your homework, a) see if you can spot how many on the list are or have been part of Auckland City Council’s “Urban Design Panel,” who have total subjective say-so over so much of Auckland’s architecture, with complete veto powers over your next project; and b) what their aesthetic judgement about these sheds says about their qualification for such a position?
UPDATE: AUT historian Paul Moon, for whom I have increasing respect, argues in the Weekend Herald that we should shed no tears over those eyesores.
Their aesthetic value, even if they were restored to pristine condition, would be negligible, except for those with very fanciful imaginations… The fact is that the sheds on the Wharf were designed purely for functional reasons, in an age where aesthetic appeal in industrial buildings was considered even less important than it is now. To elevate them to anything even resembling architectural merit is disingenuous…
“… it is surely a fallacy that just because something is (relatively) old, it therefore deserves a protective case placed over it so that it can be preserved in perpetuity. And all the time that the space is being held hostage by these grim buildings, the opportunity for our present generation of architects to shine by designing something genuinely inspirational on Queen's Wharf is kept out of reach.
“That, surely, is the bigger architectural offence.”