For Thirty Pieces of Silver… Auckland dresses up
Last week I was full of excitement about the new humane urban development at North Quay in the Wynyard Quarter; today I realise that Auckland unravels a new face (the true one?) as it dresses up for the Rugby World Cup.
We don’t have a lot of places in the city that radiate beauty; our harbour front is one of them. Here huge billboards get installed. Lighter Quay, a place, where Auckland really celebrates its maritime character, is now dominated by a massive sign, right in the face of visitors and locals who enjoy this delightful urban area. The same is happening at the bottom of Queen Street - where Architects Gummer & Ford once intended a beautiful gateway into the CBD, of which only the eastern part – the Dilworth building - got built. The ugly counterpart opposite now also puts on a new – commercial – dress. Ugliness can be subject to gradation!
Does Auckland need to do this in the very moment when we welcome the world to our city? Do successful businesses need to change the appearance of their premises into the look of cheap prostitutes? Why does Auckland sell its dignity – for thirty pieces of silver?
The facades of buildings shape the public realm of our urban environment; they are more than just private objects of projection of business egos. This actual advertisement screening calls to question the understanding of what the city means in our culture: a collective asset or private piecemeal? As architects and urban designers we are asked to raise our voices.
- Posted Aug. 17, 2011