Sunday, May 30, 2010

More from our burrow council

I am doing a bit of busspotting research into underground bus stations overseas - not as common as I thought though still very state of the art. The  most zooty found is probably Helsinki's Kamppi Centre, this includes 6 floors of underground shops and  the underground city hub for local bus services and for long distance bus services.  Next door is the countries biggest cinema complex and a metro rail station.  Greater Helsinki is about the population of greater Auckland, but far denser. Also of course, it can get very cold! Underground malls etc are not uncommon at the lattitude, anywhere in the world.

I include two photos below per Wikimedia commons

In a previous posting I suggested that if cards are played right the extra $21 million dollars to put the Christchurch Bus Exchange underground would seem relatively easy to recover given the marketable asset of a high concentration of foot traffic - tens of thousands a day - passing through this area. I suggested a hub tower building with parkland/grassed areas around it forming an added sounded barrier, with natural light wells to the bus station below poking up here and there, could be attractive for a wide variety of uses. 

In fact digging back in archives I see [and had forgotten reading] that the Bus Exchange plans are already well advanced;

The Press of 7th July 2009 reported; 

"The new $119 million Christchurch bus exchange will create an urban park, taking up a central city block, with a large glass dome at its heart". 

The glass dome allows natural light down in to the six metre-deep underground passenger lounge. Judging from overseas comments this seems to be an important ingredient in any underground facility - Auckland's Britomart does it superbly. The constant running water across the main dome creates a very beautiful dappling effect of light, as if in the forest or a cave near water. It's a real winner.

According to the same Press article;
"Passengers will reach the lounge on escalators from Colombo St. Buses will enter and leave the underground interchange on ramps, merging with traffic in Lichfield and Tuam streets. Mayor Bob Parker said the decision to put the exchange underground was driven by concerns for pedestrian safety. ....The exchange deals with 110 buses going in and out over the busiest hour, but the new complex will be built to cope with 370 buses in and out during the busiest hour by 2040. The foundations of the exchange will be strengthened to allow tall buildings either side of the bus exchange site. One option being considered is to build an $83m central library on the bus exchange site, with construction planned to begin in 2019." 

Even without an adjoining  library it would seem obvious to me there is a heap of potential in this building - as mentioned previously (and in an afterthought response to my own posting a mini-supermarket, for once not orientated to cars). Also several levels of food service - such as a burger chain, a healthy cafe, a more upmarket bar-cafe; a shoe repair and drycleaning agent, a newspaper/magazines and cigarettes and postcard kiosks; left luggage lockers, a taxi rank, a carshare parking space; a rental car outlet, or long distance bus docks and booking agents, a police or transport police booth... the list goes on. It is hard to believe that rents from all the components in a major transport terminus can not be structured in to recover some of that extra $21 million. Indeed it surprises me that one of the local infrastructure outfits isn't keen to build and lease back to the council, pocketing the extra subsidiary function rents as well.

As rabbits too often say, dig this! I am a full time bus user - ease of movement for me is everything. Generally I believe palaces are for politicians and big noters. And yet...dig this too ..... the dynamics of creating a building of this size and significance of the new Bus Exchange are that it should be done to maximum quality and effectiveness right from the start. The money needed for suburban exchanges - the most important ones I would imagine at Riccarton- Westfield, Eastgate and The Palms (with a pedestrian subway under the road to the in-stop) can be found and suburban exchanges built bit by bit across the years.

If there isn't enough gold around, then we will just have to dig that up too!

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