Design professionals and Aucklanders are unimpressed with the designs for Queens Wharf and predict another mediocre development for the city.

Unitec associate professor of Architecture Dushko Bogunovich yesterday joined architect Kevin Clarke in criticising the design competition process, driven by the tight timeframe to develop the wharf for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Writing on the Auckland Architecture Association website, Mr Bogunovich said the "Opening the Red Gates" process was more about politics, money and egos than about good design or putting Auckland on the design map of the world.

After studying the designs of the eight finalists, Mr Bogunovich said no single project fully exploited the potential of the "hottest site in the country".

The problem, he said, was not the designers' ambition and imagination, but the stingy budget of $47 million and impoverished project brief.

"It is depressingly clear that the best ideas are likely to be culled, due to lack of funding," Mr Bogunovich said.

Mr Clarke, writing in the Herald yesterday, said three teams were chosen to go to the final stage even though they did not submit an entry at the first stage of the competition.

"For the three selected teams, it's a bit like being entitled to sit an exam after the answers have been published."

Mr Clarke, whose entry did not make it past the first stage, said poor management of the competition continued with a brief that was unwieldly, self contradictory and inadequate.

Feedback to the Herald website also shows Aucklanders are underwhelmed by the designs.

Devonport resident Rory O'Crowd said the designs reflected the usual piecemeal, knee-jerk decisions Aucklanders had come to expect.

"Bung it up, make a buck and move on," he said.

An Aucklander now resident in Britain, Mr Cairncross, said the designs were boring, uninspiring and had no iconic value representing New Zealand or Auckland.

"There should not be a rush to get something developed for the Rugby World Cup, otherwise the city will end up with another Aotea Centre disaster," he said.

Last month, architect Mario Madayag, who won the design competition for the nearby Britomart transport terminal in 2000, said the Queens Wharf competition was an opportunity of a lifetime. "Right now it is limited by the money they have, but the potential of the site is so much more," Mr Madayag said.

Architectural sources are picking the Tasman Studio team to win because two of the partners, Warren and Mahoney, and Moller Architects, are flavour of the month with the Government and Auckland City Council.

Tasman is proposing a two-stage development for Queens Wharf. The first "100 per cent Public" design will be completed for the cup and is costed at $49 million plus design fees. The second stage is for a cultural centre on the northwest end of the wharf at a later date with initial support from Auckland Museum, Auckland Theatre Company and the National Library.