Proposed International Terminal, Wellington, New Zealand
This is a real proposed building. I did not make this up, I did not find it in The Onion, and it seems to really be headed toward construction. When I discovered it this afternoon, I started laughing – this is so horrific and abysmal that it’s comedic. But when I read the article that accompanied the image, I realized that both client and designer actually are serious, and have seriously convinced themselves of the value of torturing the rest of the world by building this symbol of the abject hopelessness of contemporary culture.
Listen to this: Wellington’s Mayor, Kerry Prendergast, said yesterday, “I don’t think they look like pumpkins, I think they look like rocks.” (Sorry, Mr. Mayor, they look like pumpkins. And here I was thinking that International Terminals were supposed to look like eggplants). Lead architect Nick Barratt-Boyes said he believes the International Terminal will be “New Zealand’s newest iconic building.” Nick also said of the building: “It’s a haven…a secure place…anchored to the ground.” Just for the record, the building was designed by a collaboration of Studio Pacific Architecture and Warren and Mahoney.
Proposed Wellington International Terminal, Interior
I believe that architecture and design transmits messages about who we think we are, and what we believe is important. This object says: do whatever you feel like doing, for whatever reason you feel like doing it, and then rationalize it by saying that the quality of what you have done, and the more bizarre the better, resides in its ability to shock, to be singular at all cost, to be ‘self-expressive’ even if that expression is complete gibberish.
After Frank Gehry designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the subsequent positive economic impact that a piece of architecture can have on a city as a tourist destination became known as the ‘Bilbao Effect.’ Many cities then began commissioning all manner of weird buildings by superstar architects in the hope that their communities, too, would benefit as Bilbao did. Most of these buildings are grotesque, or, unfortunately, like the proposed Wellington International Terminal, worse.
I take some solace in this: in a readers survey, nearly half of all respondents classified the building as “hideous, truly hideous,” and 40% said they thought the building to be “ripe for parody.”
Again I refer you to the words of philosopher Alain de Botton: “The notion of buildings that speak helps us to place at the very centre of our architectural conundrums the question of the values we want to live by – rather than merely of how we want things to look.”