Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Is this Christchurch's future?

What were they thinking in Augusta, Georgia, when they allowed renowned architect I M Pei to bolt this Darth Vader "penthouse" on a 1913 building?

This and other architectural offences are preserved in New Urbanist Jim Kunstler's Eyesore of the Month site.

What really frightens me is that post-earthquake Christchurch will have a toxic combination of vacant land, owners desperate for a quick build to get rentals flowing, and insurance payouts too low to build something good. This combination will put pressure on developers and owners to go for a quick fix, probably using tilt-slab construction.

They may try to make the frontage pretty, as with this big-box mall below. It's in Aurora, Illinois - but as Kunstler says, it's not really Main Street; it's a cartoon of Main Street. The store fronts aren't real; they're paintings concealing a Wal-Mart.

What's the chance that we'll see this sort of dreck on the Turners and Growers site, or somewhere in Tuam Street? Pretty high, I reckon.

Finally, I couldn't resist this classic clip of Jim Kunstler dissecting the suburban dream. I nearly said "American suburban dream", but sadly our New Zealand cities are well down this track as well. Just look at Blenheim Road or Northwood in Christchurch, or the North Shore suburbs of Auckland.

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