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Bledisloe Lane being upgraded

The Council have announced a long needed upgrade to Bledisloe Lane is about to start. The lane runs between Welleslety St and Aotea Square and often feels dark, dingy and cramped due to the really low roof and lack of natural light. Here’s what it looks like now.

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade Now

Here’s the press release.

Work has started on the upgrade of Bledisloe Lane to deliver an improved city centre laneway and enhanced access to Bledisloe House.

A popular thoroughfare for inner city workers, theatre-goers and tourists, the lane which connects Wellesley Street to Aotea Square has often been criticised for its dark recesses and gloomy, dated appearance.

The upgrade will transform the lane into a brighter and safer connection with new paving, a new glass canopy and façade to Bledisloe House at ground level and includes an upgraded pocket park on Wellesley Street. The existing canopy which significantly limits natural light will be removed in stages between June and September.

The upgrade also aligns with the relocation of the council’s Customer Service Centre from the Civic Building to the ground floor of Bledisloe House later this year. The introduction of new value-added interactions such as self-service kiosks, combined with the new location on the popular walking route, is set to deliver a new standard of service delivery for the centre.

Both projects share the vision of enhancing the public’s experience of Bledisloe Lane.

Auckland Council design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid says the upgrade is one of the many council projects realising the City Centre Masterplan vision to create a vibrant, better connected city centre that showcases Auckland as the world’s most liveable city.

He says Bledisloe Lane is a hugely important segment of what is described as the city centre pedestrian laneway circuit running from Aotea Square to the Waterfront.

“Currently the lane is well used, but its poor design quality does not encourage pedestrians to linger and enjoy the space,” says Mr Campbell-Reid.

“This situation does not fit well with the creative vibrant nature and potential of the Aotea Quarter cultural and entertainment precinct, or the kind of experience we want our Service Centre customers to have.

“Our plans to redevelop the lane, introduce a new service centre and redesign the Wellesley Street pocket park will transform the pedestrian experience”.

The design also considers future upgrades to Wellesley Street and the proposed site of the Aotea City Rail Link Station on Albert Street.

To expedite the construction works and ensure public safety the lane will be closed to pedestrians from late June to late September. Intermittent access will be allowed depending on construction occurring that day however customer access to New Zealand Post, Metro Centre and Bledisloe House main entrance will be maintained throughout construction.

The lane upgrade is expected to be complete later in the year.

All up the upgrade is costing $4 million and has be budgeted for in the current Long Term Plan. Like the shared spaces and other CBD upgrades in recent times, a lot of the money for it will be coming directly from the special CBD targeted rate paid by CBD businesses. Here are a couple of images of what it is expected to look like once it’s been finished.

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade 1

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade 2

I look forward to this being completed.

44 comments to Bledisloe Lane being upgraded

  • Low roof keeps out rain as well as sun. The new design looks a bit “open to the elements” which, in Auckland, tends to mean frequent light rain.

  • Simon H

    Hmm. The walkway looks much better, but not so sure about those fixie bikes leaning precariously against those stupid staple bike racks in the second picture. And the translucent tree is presumably aspirational.

  • Ant

    It loses too much shelter for the gain in height. The design seems to poorly consider the environment where it is sited, that might be okay if the design wasn’t so insipid.

    As a regular user of that walkway I’d prefer full shelter with lighting provided by transparency in parts of the roof, or otherwise, through an expansion in the creative use of illuminated elements like the existing walkway light box project or even something like Eyelight Lane.

  • Patrick R

    Pleased to see the Scultures given moe prominence….. Not so concerned about a little rain here, current cover oppressive.

  • BrandonU

    I like the overall idea with the glass canopy and all, but the design lacks any spirit or culture of a proper world class lane way. How about getting some graffiti or/and street artist to spruce it up a bit?

    • JamesS

      What is wrong with a tidy functional walkway? Not everything has to be ‘cool’…

      • Patrick R

        Doesn’t look like anything much more than ‘tidy and functional’ to me…

      • BrandonU

        There is nothing wrong with ‘tidy and functional’. I just think the space will be uninviting for people to actually spend time there (a destination). Look at Melbourne, people flock to the lane ways just to explore the diversity and get a feel of the place. I’m just scared ‘tidy and functional’ will lead to another path to somewhere (a walkway) which is what it acts like currently.

        • Patrick R

          Yes it ain’t gonna be no Melbourne laneway, but then I’m not sure that it should, or could. Every single business in the city can’t be a funky food outlet… might be wrong but as it’s shaded all afternoon by Bledisloe it’s not clear it has the physical attributes. Still, going to be the principle route between a Town Hall/Aotea Centre and new Council building on Albert… And the charm of Elliott St…. Maybe there’s a chance to trap some there either food and coffee offers…?

    • Chris

      I think it would look great if the Council were to hang paintings and other artworks from local artists behind the windows, and change them every month.

  • Bryce P

    I’d almost start just by tearing the existing canopy off and leave it like that for a while. Give people some time to have a think.

  • David

    i love the way they have fudged the image to make it more inviting than i suspect it will be. It definitely needs it, but in the real image the tree is the major shading it as well as the roof, in the new image the tree is suddenly a lot more transparent and lets the light thru, not some thing that will happen unless they prune or replace it. i really hope not, but i suspect the end result will be less appealing than indicated.

  • nick1234

    The new canopy is going to be higher and all glass, and won’t go across the entire width of the lane, so I expect it will be far lighter than the current canopy that goes all the way across and is mainly solid with only a narrow portion of glass in the centre. It is interested that people are so concerned about how much shelter might be lost – why do all our outdoor places and streets need to be completely covered. If it’s wet, wear a jacket or use an umbrella!

  • nick1234

    I’m from Scotland so am very familiar with the concept of wet! They don’t have all these namby-pamby canopies there and people seem to survive.

  • HV

    Coming back from the UK then you realise what wet is! It has been a brilliant winter bar this last week

  • Angela

    $4million seems like a lot of money for this but I have no idea how much these things should cost.

    • Greg N

      The revamp probably costs $500K in materials and labour, the other $3.5m is on consultants and touchy feely focus groups deciding what it should look and feel like…

      • bbc

        @Greg you mean designers? What would you prefer to this actually being designed well i.e. a space that is inviting to linger, looks good, fits in well to the surrounding buildings? Would you prefer that some guy with no training except how to draw pictures just came up with some rubbish design and we built that? Pretty well all of Auckland built by the private sector in recent years has the appearance of a complete lack of any interest in good design, if it wasn’t for the council-lead redevelopments around Auckland the city would be appalling.

        • Greg N

          BBC, there is a needed place for design, but there is also a place for good materials and good build quality, you can’t just do one without the other.
          And too often (even in AC) its seen as either or – you either have good build quality (but a shitty design) or you have shitty design (and maybe good build quality if you’re lucky).
          If its private enterprise doing it, you get shitty versions of both as its done to the barest minimum in most cases to merely “tick the box” i.e. meet a requirement not surpass it.
          Council is just as much to blame for that state of affairs by its “minimum requirements” design documents which don’t encourage private enterprise to go beyond them.

          As for the relative split of spending on this project – why removing an existing roof (agreed with maybe some asbestos in/on it) and putting in a smaller, much lighter one costs $4m I don’t know.

          Thats why I suspect the design and “consulting” element is way out of kilter with the the actual practicality of the fact its at the end of a day, still a laneway and open the elements “by design”.

  • Don

    I have heard that there is a council official who believes that there should be no overhangs on the buildings at all as their presence ‘blocks the views of the buildings from the footpath’. (He originates from the UK). This design, and no doubt other low shelter areas, may well have been influenced by this opinion.

  • The lane is shabby and could do with a makeover, sure. But it is this canyon which will forever be Bledisloe’s Achilles’ heel:

    For all its crustiness, the lane actually functions basically as it should. I assert its most awkward feature happens to be its interface with the footpath and its vehicle crossing. Those few square metres are a nexus of service vehicles, buses, and distorted pedestrian desire lines in and out of the lane, bus stops, shops, a crosswalk and a shared space. Funny how this is exactly where the project leaves off.

  • Sacha

    The foot traffic into the Bledisloe building will increase when it becomes the council service centre. Either those people have shelter outside to shake off their umbrellas or they’ll do that inside the building (reducing flooring surface choices). Competent design for a wet climate surely has to take things like that into account?

    The big Queen St project was a missed opportunity to install canopies the entire length of the street. I agree with Don that pedestrians respond to factors like that – unless we’re happy to see them all favour suburban malls.

  • Don

    Just to give annual rainfall comparison between Auckland and 3 UK cities:
    Edinburgh :704.3mm
    London :591.8mm
    Manchester ;828.8mm

    Wellington :1207.1mm

    Auckland ;1212.4mm

    Source: Wikipedia

    I think that the above pretty well says why there is and should be canopies outside buildings in Auckland.

  • Ari

    Losing the canopy is the worst thing they can do. How the hell is anyone going to enjoy or linger if they are getting soaking wet. Then we get a walkway full of idiots with umbrellas running and poking each others eyes out. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. It’s like the designers live in some fantasy land.

  • mfwic

    Hamish Keith’s art show had black and white footage of that end of the Bledisloe Building before the heavy canopy was built. It was a great looking building in its day. (He was more interested in the skittle things at the end)

  • Stranded on the North Shore

    I hope they clearly mark it as smoke-free. The current signs are somehow either not-sufficient or ignored. It’s one of the worst places to walk in the CBD through if someone is smoking in its vicinity.

  • Bob

    It looks amazing.

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