Category Archives: News

Bad shadows from building up

Built in 1915, the 38-storey Equitable Building at 120 Broadway New York put neighbouring buildings in its shade.

The construction of Paris’s modern 56-storey Montparnasse Tower, of large proportions and monolithic appearance, resulted in the banning of buildings over seven storeys high in the city centre.

If you visit the Pembroke St entrance to the Elizabeth Rothwell Building at Waikato Hospital campus, you will sometimes feel a significant and unpleasant wind around this building. Gehl Architects explain this phenomenon in their report for Apeldoorn 2009 Public Spaces and Public Life (page 64, Conflicts with public life)

‘One of the problems with high buildings is the microclimatic conditions created at the base. When strong winds meet a tall free-standing building turbulence and fast down-winds will sweep the nearby streets in unpredictable ways. Fast winds lower the temperature of streets and public spaces, minimising the comfort for people walking or staying nearby and effectively preventing public life. Additionally, high-rise casts long shadows, limiting the recreational values of city streets and squares. However grand it may appear as both skyline and from within its apartments or offices, poorly placed and designed high-rise buildings can render public space useless as a place for public life activities. The inevitable result is public space with an absence of public life’.

from google

Tall buildings are a high risk venture; as an example, in the 1980s Hamilton built the Government Life building, which was designed to be the largest and tallest building in Hamilton. It creates a five o’clock shadow over Ward Street: do people find this attractive?

Victoria on the River is a focal point for people in the city centre and links the centre to the river, yet here again, a tall building casts an afternoon shadow over a great terraced seating area.

Image from VOTR a finalist for architecture award

Tall buildings create shadows. Do we want more shadows? We also need to ask: Do higher buildings deliver higher densities than mid-rise buildings? Do higher buildings create unpleasant winds for people at street level? Do tall buildings make the central city a place where people love to be?

Category: News

Trees in the city centre

LOOK “There’s no cause for alarm. I chopped just one tree. I am doing, no harm. I’m being quite useful” said the Once-ler … “you seem to be chopping as fast as you please” said the Lorax … “I intend to go on doing just what I do!” said the Once-ler … and at that very moment, we heard a loud whack! … The very last – tree in Hamilton central will be gone by the mid-2030s, just as the last fruit tree was in 2018. (more from Dr Seuss here)

After some two century of colonial fruit trees in Hamilton’s centre, in September 2018 the last fruit tree was gone.

 In 2010 in the central area of Hamilton I counted 420 trees that could be called mature (15 years+), and of these about 135 could be called large trees. Now, in 2020, over 38% of those trees have been removed, and what is even sadder is that close to 40% of the large trees are gone.

In Dec 2019 the tree above was removed after storm damage, but looking across Hamilton Central it is not easy to understand why so many trees needed to be removed.

If we look back at the 2014 beautification of Anglesea Street, the removal of the mature Mexican ash trees took all of them; using Google street view from pre-2014 shows root damage to the path on the western side, but looking closely at the eastern side there is no visible footpath damage. Is there carelessness in the justification of tree removal?

“No trees for the future would be dreadful indeed. That’s why I carry my bag of tree seeds” said Truax the logger … “We’ve worked really hard to manage our trees – To keep lots of them growing and free from disease” … “I agreed with the Guardbark that it always is good to save some of the old, historical wood” … in National Preserves … set aside JUST to look nice (Well – critters and plants DO use this land. It just isn’t used by woman or man) … “And perhaps best of all” the Guardbark beamed “I think things ARE NOT quite as bad as they seemed” (more from Terri Birkett on Truax here)

Hamilton Report 1989 page79 (1Ivor Cunningham from Nature in Cities, editor Ian C.Laurie)

The legacy of the last decade – the Municipal pools closed, Euphrasie House demolished, St Paul’s Methodist Church now a car-park, 40% of the mature trees in CBD gone, Farmers Co-op building gone, Founders theatre closed. It might be a good time to start retaining the old to share with future generations.

Category: News