Cuba Street 2035

Matthew McFetridge (website)
Victoria University of Wellington
Third Year Design Studio
Faculty: Mark Southcombe


Cuba Street is successful because of its character and diversity, so when designing a new installation for Cuba Street how do you ensure that the essence of Cuba Street is not lost? “{Historic} preservation must be selective and coordinated … it belongs very much to its locality: and for that very reason it represents a building which the visitor carries away in his memory,” and if this memory is not tailored through a planned selection of development it “will result in pathetic patchworks of obsolescence.”

The Cuba Street Precinct is heritage listed by New Zealand Historic Places Trust, however this does not mean every building is heritage listed. The success of Cuba St is built around the preservation of character and diversity rather than singular buildings stuck is time. This design attempts to take the essence of Cuba St and translate that into a contemporary format for 2035. Therefore my design question is:

How can a planned selection of historic techniques and styles be modernised to extend the essence of Cuba Street: ensuring this essence is not lost through its development?

Is it possible to understand past techniques (materials, depth, shadow, geometry, symmetry, composition etc.) and styles so that they can be reinvigorated for a future Cuba Street? Where a heritage listed building is concerned, thinking about palimpsest, how can it its growth connect to its past?

This is to develop the essence of Cuba St through its character, extracting its latent qualities and translating them into a contemporary format for 2035.

References: Summerson, John. Heavenly Mansions. London: Cresset Press Ltd, 1949. 223-224.

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