Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Weekend Photographic Outings [Part 1]

The weather this weekend has been really nice. And owing to it being a long weekend too as well as term break, what better time than now to go out with the camera and have some nice walks around the place.

Firstly, some highlights from Friday...

 Autumnal colours - simply spectacular
"Dux de lux" restaurant in the Arts Centre. Partial damage to the building can be seen here, though the full-extent of the damage is subject to a bit of a long-running spat (details inside)
Arts Centre. Closed to the public for the foreseeable future. It's impressive how they've gone and categorised into large piles broken pieces...
Graffiti at the edge of the "red" zone. Looking back at this shot, there's quite a bit of irony here, with the crumbling red-bricks and pile of silt behind a cordon fence.
Devastation in a snapshot. Despite this shot being a quick unfocussed and probably mildly motion-blurred shot out the window, we can see the critically damaged Hotel Grand Chancellor on the left, death-trap CTV building remains on the right (behind the parking sign), and yet more crumbled red bricks behind a hazy cordon fence, much like how the CBD and surrounding eastern areas will move forward from here...

Familar and Unfamiliar Landmarks: North CBD
Looking down Durham Street at the army-manned cordon.

In the background to the left is the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formely known as the Parkroyal). There was a nice restaurant there, where you could look out at Victoria Square + the Town Hall on one side, watch the lifts decorated with little lightbulbs travel up and down from the glass ceiling several storeys up, while listening to some old guy tickling the ivories. Apparently the basement carpark suffered some flooding, and apparently there was some minor structural damage (see the next image in the album. Unless I'm seeing things, it would appear that there is a minor bit of waviness there)

Across the road, the Copthorne Hotel apparently suffered structural damage to its basement in the first quake.

Looking down Colombo Street. This was taken from the cordon one block back from the first row of gates you see through the fence IIRC. Another guy there was poking his lens between two fence panes.

The section pictured here used to have heaps of smaller restaurants, all of which have now been pulled down due to extensive damage. Meanwhile, the tall building (Forsyth Barr) suffered staircase collapses (how a building can do that and still be deemed to have served its purpose of allowing people to get out safely after an emergency is a mystery to me!), with people having to abseil out windows to get out.

In the middle, we can see the stump of the cathedral's spire in Cathedral Square, or rather, the steel framing holding it up. If you look closely, the golden arches further south still seem to be holding up fine though ;)

Pilgrimage to the rubble heap
Many residents were walking along this closed off street to inspect a pile of rubble at the proverbial feet of the cranes and diggers. At the time, I didn't recognise what this was, but in hindsight, it was the "Strategy" building. It was pulled down following last weekend's pre-dinner jolt.

This building had been done up a few years ago to look quite modern. Ever since this, around Christmas each year a flock of reindeer could be seen in the windows of the top floor. Previously, an interesting looking car with post-service livery used to live at the base of the stairwell.

While walking around this area, I noticed this old villa which I haven't seen before. Despite looking quite dilapidated, especially after one of the quakes seems to have done in its southern wall, I still found this building's appearance quite striking. It seems to be quite an ornate and beautiful design, which is much more appealing than some of the modern offerings around the place nowadays.

Arts Centre - Old University Campus
Walking around, it's clear that the Arts Centre will be out of action for a long time... (Top: "Snowy Peak" store, Bottom: "Court Theatre")
Site closed for repairs.
Many of the buildings have bracing like the stuff seen here, holding what's left together.
Ducks for the Dux
The "Dux de Lux" has been a famous bar/restaurant for years, especially in recent years, as the owner spearheaded the efforts to stop the university + city council trying to put up a "music conservatorium" building in the carpark beside the restaurant on the Arts Centre site. 

This was quite a heated and politically charged debate (full disclosure: personally, I am/was on the "oppose" camp, though not officially involved in any proceedings). For many years, the university's music department had been lobbying for newer and more spacious facilities (having seen these facilities for myself on a few occasions, I'll admit that yes, their current facilities are like a haphazard warren of pigeonholes, with the 4 practice rooms there having barely enough room to turn around in). 
For whatever reason, the vice-chancellor became hell-bent on the idea that such a centre should be built in the city centre (where the university's campus had originally been before it was moved out to the suburb of Ilam in the 1950's due to lack of space). At the same time, the city council was finalising it's deals (with the megabucks-corporatised-branch of the local Maori tribe) to build a new HQ near the Arts Centre, so that there would be a bit of a "civic precinct" around there. It transpires that they were actually in 'severe need' of a few (dozen? hundred?) extra carparks available in the immediate area, since there weren't that many carparking buildings in that area (compared with their old Tuam St. offices, with a whole block of dedicated open-air and some covered car-parking space across the road). 
Now, the story goes that the city council would "lend" the university money to help them build a conservatorium on the Arts Centre carpark site, and in return, the university would own the building while paying off the loan, AND (here's the part where things start sounding fishy ;) set aside a "certain number of carparks for council staff". *Ahem* Naturally, when these details came out, public disapproval for this boiled over, and was probably one of the reasons why the mayor nearly didn't get reelected if it hadn't been for the quakes.

But prior to this, there were already some other issues on which a large amount of the general public were concerned about regarding the conservatorium. 
- From a student perspective, it would've meant some extra communing time to go from the city centre to the Ilam campus and back, possible several times a day. People who've done this in the past had mixed feelings on it, though a majority did consider that this was bound to be trouble-prone, and end up putting stress on students and the transport infrastructure.
- Furthermore, the more they talked, the more it sounded like this was only going to be a practice-rooms + concert venue arrangement vs classes occurring there, with "selective involvement" (i.e. only "some" scores/programmes/classes would get to use the facility)
- From a city perspective, the building would've only really been used during term time, and then it would be "closed" for several months a year, namely holiday periods (i.e. summer) when the University is closed for teaching, but when tourists were most likely to come. Thus, you'd have this big looming building that was unused/wasted during large swathes of the year, hardly bringing the "uni meets people" thing they claimed this would bring.
- From a heritage/architectural perspective, the proposed building was to have been quite a tall, towering monstrosity designed by Miles Warren (in a newspaper article on the subject, he was described as being quite a savvy "commercial" architect). It would have been taller than some of the existing buildings, and have had some styling which would not have gone too well with the rest of the architecture on the site. Furthermore, the site that they were planning to have built this on isn't that large actually.

So, where does the Dux come into this? Well, the last point mentioned really. For you see, the Dux is located just beside the said carpark area that was to have become the conservatorium. The conservatorium would have towered over this building by something like 2-3 times its height, and consequently, blocking out most of the light (and view) from parts of the restaurant. 
Hence, the owner of the restaurant helped finance the legal bid to block the resource consent to have this thing go ahead. Fortunately for Christchurch, they won :) Unfortunately for the university's music department though, the vice-chancellor announced that their "new facilities" programme was to be abandoned for the foreseeable future (aka they went back to the end of the queue), citing the "large expenses" already spent on the failed venture (namely legal, but also architect's fees probably).

Fast forward a few months and now that the Arts Centre faces a lengthy restoration process, the chairman of the trust board which runs the place (a bald-headed, steely eyed, grump) has evicted all "tenants" of the site. Including the said restaurant, despite the owner willing to pay for the costs of fixing his building. Seeing the photo of the trust chair in the paper the other day, it became clear why this whole fiasco had happened anyway.

Repairs in progress... step 1) categorise thy materials
A peek within: walls are being held up with bracing frames (left). Meanwhile, lanterns (possibly put in in preparation as part of the Lantern festival, which was to have been held the weekend after the quake struck).
This spire was taken down off the roof of the Great Hall after it was dislodged in September. It's quite impressive seeing this on ground level, since although it doesn't look nearly half as big usually, it is in fact nearly 2 storeys high! You really wouldn't want something like this falling on your head!

Earthquake Recovery HQ (Formely Art Gallery)

It's looking a lot quieter than it did in the days immediately after during the news briefings, but it's clear that nerve centres are apparently rather messy places ;)

Nearby (to Art Gallery) Quake Sights
Leaning ornamental entranceway to a house across the street to the gallery
Old Girl's High School building?

Some old building on Kilmore Street

There were quite a lot of people out taking photos of this corner. No matter what I tried, I couldn't quite get the shot I wanted of the rubble in this corner: it was just too "distant" and not as confrontational/in-your-face as when I initially passed by in the car.

Familiar bracing techniques. How many of these buildings will we be able ultimately save?

Victoria Street Clock Tower
First shot (didn't notice that damned fence was in the way until I got home) with it's little "feet" (i.e. grey bag-things tied to its foundations to keep it in place). Second shot shows the dangling top-thingy.

Carlton Corner

 Knox Church - just an empty shell now
Carlton Hotel - just a pile of rubble

Mona Vale
This is just the little cottage/building on Fendalton Road, which seems to have lost some of its roofing tiles. However, the main homestead instead apparently has much more severe damage, and may have to/have already come down.

No comments:

Post a Comment