Welcome to the Goethe-Institut CityScapes Blog.
From January through December 2011, these were the parameters for a playground of diverse, fascinating, vibrant tales: Responding individually to a collective impetus, a host of hand-picked young bloggers uploaded photos, texts, and multimedia. Every month, they were given a new theme. Step by step, they created a kaleidoscope of impressions, opinions, ideas and… plain fun.
This project has now ended. If you like what you see, you may want to check out the brand new CityTales Comic Blog.
I remember the first time I moved to Auckland, from the rugged South Island. I was amazed by the lush climate and the very different botanical structure and textures this environment gives rise to.
Some time later I was living in Paris and during the searing summer heat my friend would steep and chill tea from Hibiscus flowers she had brought back from her travels in far off lands.
For her it conjured thoughts of the Middle East, but for me of Auckland. Such flowers either pop up from the fences of suburbia or appear tucked behind the ears of Pacific Island women with a beautiful effortlessness.
When I think of green space in Auckland, I immediately think Albert Park. It is a treasure of the CBD. Even in the most miserable of Auckland’s rainy days, it is a paradise and the large trees provide shelter from the rain. If my schedule prevents me from walking up through it on the way to University I often visit during the day between meetings and class just to take a moment. Somehow the park is magical and just a moment there makes you feel energised. Albert Park is refreshing in the morning, and at dusk, stunning. Hovering at the periphery, the tops of Auckland’s high rises become rectangular prisms of light and the whole space glows. Recently, the Auckland Art Gallery renovation has been completed and its architecture has opened up a unique access to the park. It’s a very rare but brilliant relationship as the park has enhanced the building but simultaneously the building has enhanced the park. It is possible now to view art from the park and view the green scape and dappled light while in the gallery. This makes for a reduction in gallery fatigue which so many buildings housing the world’s finest collections don’t address and usually send me to the café on arrival for a glass of wine and an espresso at once.
Across town, running quietly alongside Queen St is Myers Park. I always forget about Myers Park and when I remember to use it as a short cut up to K Road, I can’t believe how I could forget about such a space. The park is bright green. It is a gully-like space acting as an axis between the busy Aotea Square, Queen St and K Road. Usually it is silent and you feel like you have just encroached on another time and place. The tree canopy stretches out high across the gully, and classical style sculptures perched along the way loom down upon you.
But, back to my garden in the eerily tiled precinct of the Viaduct. Earlier I remarked on how the building’s courtyard and over designed grass area could be a thriving and functional shared garden. Recently the contrived grass spiral has been removed and replaced with a synthetic replica. The comments I have heard so far have been ‘It looks more real than real grass!’ and ‘It's going to last for 25 years!’ as though these points are favourable. I fear we will see more of this as the recession bites further and now that we are becoming desensitised to the prevalence of “temporary” plastic membrane structures and rapid construction. It better not happen in the parks!