Creative Concepts for a Stronger Cuba Street

20 July 2012

Wellington architecture students will soon be turning their creative talents to developing concept plans to strengthen Cuba Street's historic buildings.

A collaborative project is now underway which will see architecture students from Victoria University come up with design concepts for the seismic upgrade of buildings on Cuba Street. Wellington City Council and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust are supporting the project.  

The students will be required to look at developing designs which meet the requirements to strengthen the buildings but also display good urban design principles. As part of the project, the students will also develop a model of how Cuba Street could look in 2032, showing how the buildings could complement the street environment.   

A public meeting to explain the project to building owners and residents will be held from 5.30pm - 7.30pm on Thursday 26 July at Victoria University's Architecture and Design school, 139 Vivian Street.

"It's a very exciting project as the students will have the opportunity to put forward a vision showing how Cuba Street could evolve over the next 20 years. We will be encouraging students to think about developing concepts which are bold, innovative and reflect the character of the area," says Associate Professor Andrew Charleson from Victoria's School of Architecture, who is a specialist in earthquake engineering.  

Around 70 fourth year architecture students will be working on the project. The students will be supervised by experienced practising structural engineers and architects. Design concepts for approximately 70 buildings, and the street as a whole, will be developed as part of the project.

Councillor Iona Pannett, Wellington City Council's Built Environment Portfolio Leader, says that the project is great news for building owners. "The students will be looking at options to carry out strengthening works on clusters of buildings. This work could produce lower-cost strengthening options for building owners and will also develop an urban design concept for Cuba Street which is respectful of its heritage character and its importance to the city," she says.

Council staff will be working with the students to provide heritage advice and access to building plans and infrastructure information.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust Central Region Area Coordinator, David Watt, says the Trust is pleased to be part of the project. "Cuba Street is a registered historic area and we are very encouraging of practical and realisable design solutions. The project has Wellington architectural and structural engineering experts involved which we are very supportive of. It also has the possibility of being extended to other parts of the city where earthquake-risk buildings have been identified." 

Wellingtonians will be able to see the concept model for Cuba Street when the project is completed in November.  

For more details on the meeting and the student project, see:

Information Sheet - Improving the Earthquake Resilience of Cuba Street Buildings (21Kb PDF) | Text version (8Kb RTF)

Cuba Street building owners who are interested in finding out more about the project, but are unable to attend the meeting, can contact David Watt on (04) 494 8322 or email dwatt@historic.org.nz.