Home' The Wellingtonian : April 5th 2012 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, APRIL 5, 2012
Ph: 474 0147
Designing more exciting cities
Architect Allistar Cox
talks to Rebecca
Wellington's cafes and
bars, Europe and
Allistar Cox: ''Bars and cafes are highly theatrical and you can push the boundaries.''
You grew up in Wellington.
What's special about it?
The people and the culture, and
it's a compact city.
Have you always been
interested in design and archi-
Yes. It was one of those things I
was curious about, even as a child.
The culture of places drives my
interest; architecture is the mech-
anism that allows me to explore
You run architectural
design company AllistarCox.
Yes. There are three of us. The
first incarnation of The
Matterhorn was our first project.
That was 15 years ago.
You also designed the Mojo
cafes, Ancestral and Dragon-
fly. What draws you to those
types of establishments?
It goes back to that cultural
thing and having the ability to
influence culture. We also did
Mighty Mighty, which caters for
the music scene. Now it's where
the Bohemian culture exists. I
love that place. Bars and cafes are
highly theatrical and you can
push the boundaries. People are
expecting to have an experience,
not just coffee or a wine. They're
obviously a lot of fun.
Do you travel much?
A fair bit. We have clients in
Tokyo, Dubai, Melbourne, Auck-
land and Christchurch. Tokyo's a
marvellous place -- 34 million
people, great urban structures
and great use of space. Melbourne
is an extremely positive city and
we could learn a lot of lessons
from them. I like Spain, they way
they're incredibly urban. In Barce-
lona they have a very good street
culture -- people use the streets as
their living room in way. People
are encouraged to eat or sit in the
You seem to really enjoy
I love it. I'm going there next
week. I've got 15 restaurants and
bars to look at for work. They
really understand the value of the
hospitality industry in Melbourne.
There always seem to be people
out and about in the streets, even
at night, and that makes the
streets safer. Melbourne has the
same issues as us, with excessive
drinking, but they encourage good
behaviour, rather than try to
clamp down on bad behaviour.
What would you like to see
more of in Wellington?
Wouldn't it be great to see more
outdoor food kiosks and outdoor
dining up and down Cuba St?
Why don't we have more of
that sort of thing?
It's just too hard. Wellington
City Council makes it very diffi-
cult. I tried to do it in Bond St
when I did Mojo. Two car parks
could hold 25 diners, but it wasn't
going to happen. It seems the
council places more value on car
parks, but the thing is, you can
bury them underground and we
Is there a lesson there?
So many things can kill a good
space. Having 10-tonne buses
trundling down one route through
the city kills the space. Don't me
get wrong. Buses are great, but
we've got to have them in the
right places. Also, mini-buses,
they're what we should be looking
at.You have clients in Christ-
church. How's that going?
It's so frustrating for everyone
there with the insurance process
taking so long. And you can't build
if you don't have insurance. It's
going to take a long, long time for
that CBD to be rebuilt. It's a
massive operation and it shouldn't
be rushed, but it's a good oppor-
tunity to do something great.
What should Wellington do
with its quake-prone heritage
There are dangerous buildings
and people's safety should come
first. Heritage is important, but a
facade can be stripped off and re-
built in polystyrene and concrete
so it looks exactly the same. You
can be held back by history. Even
with strengthening, brick walls
will fall over, facades will fall off
and if you're standing near them,
you will die.
Can a building be 100 per
cent earthquake proof?
Yes, there is such a thing, but
the question is: can we afford to
build it? There is huge cost. There
are buildings in Christchurch that
are 100 per cent up to code and
they withstood the earthquake.
Is Wellington architectur-
It's a lovely city and the people
are fantastic, the culture is fan-
tastic, but you can't exactly say
it's known for its architecture.
Are there any new buildings
you think are exciting?
The addition of the Telecom
building in Willis St is fantastic. I
haven't been inside, but from the
exterior it's fresh and new.
Why are we not architectur-
Wellingtonians have this
obsession with open space and
that can hold us back. We don't
use spaces well. Look at Waitangi
Park. It has its merits, but some
buildings there would connect the
space better to the waterfront.
Having said that, the landscaping
at Waitangi Park is excellent.
What do you when you're
not designing places?
My hobby is my work and it's a
pretty good hobby to have. But I
do go for walks around Welling-
ton. I just went for a walk around
the back of Wainuiomata, all the
way out at the coast. It's a reac-
tion to the busy city. If I want to
remove myself from it all, that's
what I do.
Marsden Village and Karori's
Farewell to John and Anne Watts
Let us say thank you!
Come and join others farewelling
John and Anne Watts
Karori Baptist Church
on Thursday 12 April 2012
commencing at 5.45p.m.
For further information contact:
Barrie R Keenan
Phone 476 7056
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