Forward Thinking: Metal heaven

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'There are fewer aprtments nearby to be affected by the beautiful noise'. Photo / Brett Phibbs
'There are fewer aprtments nearby to be affected by the beautiful noise'. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A famous Rolling Stone once said: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." In fact, and because Mick was taking the mickey out of blokes like me, I'm going to manipulate his words and say: architecture could very well make you want to dance. Especially down at the new Wynyard Quarter on Auckland's waterfront. If you ask me, with its collision of industrial beauty, wasteland-like architecture, and (soon to be) wide open green spaces, it is the perfect spot for a rock 'n' roll show and a good old-fashioned knees-ups.

There are rumours it could be the sight for next year's Laneway Festival - but more on those possibilities later.

Whether people like to admit it or not, everybody loves a little bit of metal on metal. A little rust. And a little bit of heavy duty decay like that exhibited on those gorgeous old tanks down at the tank farm.

Don't they? Well, I do. Maybe it's my sick - and I guess somewhat dated these days - obsession with industrial music of the kind that's cold, punishing, and minimal.

It's powerful stuff, honest. Or maybe my love of these metal structures and their many appendages like pipes, giant taps and stairwells, simply comes down to how aesthetically cool and intriguing they look.

It's this rusty, reinforced steel back-drop, mixed with future parkland to be developed that makes the Wynyard Quarter - the first part of a 25-year, $120 million development - such an impressive playground for Auckland.

Though it didn't exactly look a picture when I went for a walk there on a dull afternoon this week - following the official opening last weekend when thousands had a nosey around - the potential is there.

Yes, eventually, most of the old stuff will be gone. But big ups to the planners and developers for retaining some of the industrial heritage of the area, like the old cement silo and, best of all, "the six pack" - half-a-dozen tall, thin tanks - which take pride of place at the very western end of Jellicoe St right by the water.

Then there's the new labyrinth-like gantry walkway and vantage point that cuts a steely swathe across the area. It's industrial-strength architecture, man, and like I say, it will make you want to dance.

Which brings me back to what could be held there, and the possibility of Laneway finding a more appropriate home after being held at Britomart in 2010 and Aotea Square this year. When the day-long event was held at the newly revamped square it was plagued by noise complaints from inner city apartment-dwellers. Maybe they had a point, because at one stage - thank you, Children's Hour - it was excruciatingly loud. Then again, it was only for one afternoon and night, and having a gig slap-bang in the middle of the city is something that should be encouraged rather than pooh-poohed.

However, Wynyard Quarter could be an even better place for a festival such as Laneway. It might be a little exposed, but better to have a sea breeze at your back during the stinking hot summer than the sweltering confines of Aotea Square. Best of all, there are fewer apartments nearby to be affected by the beautiful noise.

While the area still looks a little unruly - with council blokes planting shrubs, some areas being prepared for further development and building work going on - it will only get better as it grows in and gets bigger, with the addition of a headland park that will jut out into the harbour.

And just imagine the sprawling crowd you could fit into that space in years to come.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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