Basin symmetry could be destroyed

VISUALLY APPEALING? :A green screen of trees could limit the visual impact of the Basin Reserve flyover.
VISUALLY APPEALING? :A green screen of trees could limit the visual impact of the Basin Reserve flyover.

The symmetry of the Basin Reserve will be destroyed by a proposed flyover and new Basin pavilion, critics of the project say.

Architect Richard Reid made his second appearance at the $90 million flyover's board of inquiry hearing this morning to explain why he opposes the New Zealand Transport Agency's plans.

Reid questioned the transport logic behind the proposed flyover 20 metres north of the Basin when he first gave evidence back in March. Today he criticised the project's urban design.

He was most upset about the agency's plan to block the flyover from view by building a 65m-long, 12.9m-high pavilion at the northern end of the cricket ground.

Doing so would throw out the symmetry of the historic venue, which had been carefully designed to ensure its features aligned with the surrounding area, he said.

For instance, the Museum Stand was built directly opposite the Mt Victoria Tunnel portal, the C. S. Dempster and J. R. Reid gates mirrored each other, and the William Wakefield Memorial even lined up with the the Edward Dixon clock - a relic from the old Caledonian Stand that now adorns the Museum Stand.

"This shows a clear intentional planning to organise the city in a way so that all of these features are in alignment with each other," Reid said.

"It's a harmonic or vague symmetry. There's a clear north-south and east-west alignment of features in the Basin Reserve."

Lawyer Kerry Anderson, acting for the Basin Reserve Trust and Wellington City Council, pointed out the new pavilion would occupy what is currently empty space on the ground's perimeter.

The existing embankment would not be harmed, she said.

But Reid argued that spectators' perceptions of the embankment would be harmed.

At present, spectator areas were all a consistent height within the ground, when the grandstands were taken out of the picture, he said. Adding a pavilion into the mix would destroy that continuity.

"It blocks your view of the continuity of the ground ... and to me, that actually changes the embankment within the ground."

The view shaft between the Kent and Cambridge Tce boulevard and Adelaide Rd on the other side of the ground would also be destroyed by the pavilion, Reid said.

He went on to argue that the Basin Reserve roundabout itself was a significant defining feature of Wellington that should be protected.

"Many other cities have roundabouts but they're always located within complex locations of movement," he said.

"In Wellington, it's almost fundamental how everything [to do with the flow of the city] meets at the roundabout. There's nothing like this anywhere in the world ... and that will be lost with the flyover."

Reid was instrumental in designing the Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option (Brreo) - an alternative to the flyover that involves widening the roundabout to three lanes and improving its intersections.