Monday, November 1, 2010

Colonisation: The Hanging Gardens of Ponsonby

Soho Square, Ponsonby.  What a mess. 

In 2006 money was easy and plans were big for the former site of the Dominion yeast factory.  A small town was to be built with shops, apartments, cinemas and 1250 carparks delving deep 5 levels below the ground.  A very big hole was dug which the developers promptly fell into by the end of  2009.

The funny thing about outrages is how they ebb away.  While controversy over the use of the site raged throughout it’s development and continues now, the anger at it’s rot has dissipated.
Not so in March 2009 when locals invaded and made the site an art installation.  Grafitti reading, “I wish this was a swimming pool” inspiring an unique protest.  An urban beach party in fetid water.

But maybe signs are there that something might be happening again. I noticed this today.

Going to be a good summer

Then looking into to the crater caused by the eruption of cavalier optimism and borrowed money,  I was struck that while the developers and protestors have lost interest, nature had not. Clumps of Toe Toe grass (Cortaderia) have taken hold on the edges.  Plants that look like papyrus in the Nile have found purchase in the stagnant water and concrete floor.

The Dominion Yeast Company had been manufacturing yeast on the Pollen Street site from 1910 and perhaps the memory of spawning life is still in the scorched earth.  And looking at the growth above the retaining walls holding up Ponsonby Road I thought, “Let it grow!”.  Spread wild seeds and give the land back to nature until we can organize ourselves.

Let us grow our own “Hanging Garden of Babylon” in the detritus of greed and financial mismanagement


  1. Funny, we've got a big hole right across the road from out place in St Laurent du Var from developers who also dug a never to be underground car park and ran out of funny money a couple of year ago. It is ALSO filling up with interesting looking papyrus and bamboo. I thought someone could fill in in and make a park...

  2. The last word I heard on the place was from a council surveyor, who said the land anchors holding up the walls were only rated for 2 and a half years and as they were now 3 years old it was "a bit of a worry" given the two heritage buildings at either end of the hole. Awesome.