For this set of photos, I was out walking with my son. Having the buggy meant that moving around the plaza was a bit harder than at Pukeahu, so both the boy and the buggy are in view.
I’ve long been a fan of urban sculpture, especially when it integrates well into the environment. Even though the discs are small and subtle, I noticed a few people looking at the dedication plaque to learn more.
A major point of the redevelopment was to open up access to the Beehive. Instead of hiding behind a tree-covered hillside, a sweeping staircase invites people to explore. Anyone with accessibility needs will likely have to go through the gates and use the ramp. The platforms on the far side of the steps are completely inaccessible to wheel-dependent people.
The steps are accompanied by amphitheatre seats, probably quite excellent for people-watching and a possible substitute for playground equipment.
The benches are loosely clustered on the north end and slightly sparse around the steps. This offers the ability to sit alone or with larger groups. I saw this tweet from NZ Living Streets, which depicts a problem with the seats:[tweet https://twitter.com/NZLivingStreets/status/589028890091237376]
While I can sympathise with the issue, I think there’s value in having this cluster. It makes a natural starting point for larger groups that need to stick together, such as school kids and supervisors.
Additionally, there are a number of pedestrian corridors that have been kept clear. It’s hard to see from this angle, but the path directly along Lambton Quay is bench free and quite wide.
The biggest impediment to foot traffic heading between the Beehive and Lambton Quay is the Cenotaph itself. In my view, that’s not a problem, but an asset. I see it as gentle encouragement to interact with our urban monuments.
I think the plaza will be a great public space for the north end of the CBD, which is a precinct that often dies off outside of business hours. How people respond in varying weather remains to be seen, but there’s ample opportunity to sit in the sun when it’s out. We might even see a few buskers popping up in this end of town on the sunnier afternoons.