JUNJIE (TERRY) XU
The main feature of urbanism is that it becomes increasingly sprawling. Auckland as a developing city has an increasing population and a decreasing usable land area. This pair of contradictions should be seriously dealt with in order to support urban development. Currently the brownfield sites are a kind of derelict or unused post-industrial sites, which have great potential and ought to be explored in terms of serving urban growth. In Auckland brownfields are a problem, which seriously restricts the construction and progress of the city. The issue of how to effectively and efficiently redevelop and transform brownfield sites is increasingly a topic that is considered by agencies and a wide range of professionals throughout the world.
In order to explore a possible new way to develop the suburbs, the Crown Lynn brownfield site in New Lynn, could serve as a suitable test case for research purposes.
THE SITE AND CHALLENGES
In terms of the New Lynn Urban Plan (1), as one of the designated metropolitan centres in Auckland, a great revitalisation is under future consideration for New Lynn, especially for the transformation of the Crown Lynn site. The council aims to build a prosperous New Lynn town centre for a more liveable future. A wide range of aspects comprises the quality of the environment. For example, in regard to the appearance of the new metropolitan centre, attention would be given to the pedestrian rights, landscape, infrastructure and other amenities in the new communities there, as required for overall improvement to the area.
The Crown Lynn site is a typical industrial site, which is now producing bricks for the local market. The existence of the Crown Lynn brownfield site seems to have affected urban development and has had adverse effects on the environment for a long time. A more outstanding issue is the interruption of connectivity between the southern residential areas and town centre. With the announcement of policies on the part of Auckland council to build a compact and liveable city, a series of obvious changes have been put in place and achieved around the New Lynn town centre to improve the quality of the environment. There are also a series of guilds for Crown Lynn transformation as follows.
- A dense suburban community (Crown Lynn) as a linkage will be developed between the town centre and suburbs, to improve the existing situation.
- The development of business and commerce should be considered for the purpose of stimulating economic growth, and to create more jobs.
- Footpaths and cycleway are important to enable people to maintain a healthy and sustainable lifestyle under the new policy. These amenities should be improved and expressed in every detail.
- In order to meet the increasing housing requirements, Crown Lynn will be transformed into a paradigm of town centre living. As a dense and modernised community, there will be no less than 4,000 housing units built with the application of sustainable techniques.
- A business enhancement and vertical mixed-use residential model represents another aspect in terms of two of the goals related to the transformation of Crown Lynn that has been planned by the council.
- A new park around the existing pond with a hard and soft landscape at Crown Lynn adjacent to the transit interchange will service a new attractive urban public space for recreation and leisure.
The aim of this research and design project is to develop a sustainably liveable community with adequate public spaces from the perspective of landscape architecture on a former brownfield site. People are the most important stakeholders to be considered to ensure the entire process will develop via the expected direction. Through the process that involves research that includes the literature review, case studies, site investigation and analysis. In this project, the three aspects of ecology, the economy and community will be addressed in order to achieve the goal of sustainability. A set of strategies will be formulated and refined to help with the production of a mixed-use project with appealing public spaces.
This project involves a set of design strategies that will primarily focus on the connectivity with the surrounding neighbourhoods, the accessibility and walkability of the Crown Lynn site, while also retaining the natural character as well as the creation of diversified public spaces and compelling liveable spaces. The development of strategies will help form a more clear and specific design direction and will also examine and investigate the ideal outcome.
This project includes a series of site analyses and a refinement of landscape strategies as design methods that have been established to guide a human oriented design development combined with thought and solutions in relation to a range of site and environmental issues. This project examines whether sustainable outcomes can be obtained from the three aspects of ecology, economy and community. And at the same time, it will apply the plans and policies within the framework of the requirements and the local culture in terms of the New Zealand context to achieve a modern lifestyle close to the town centre.
High-density development could be an effective solution to accommodate the issue of an overcrowded population in a city and almost all of the requirements can be met for living in a city environment. However, a couple problems still exist, such as insufficient parking spaces, traffic congestion, extravagant body corporate costs, less private space and other urban issues which have on influence on people and their daily lives.
The same as other cities, urbanism represents a challenge for Auckland and even if we conduct research related to other countries, finding an appropriate lifestyle still needs to be considered within the New Zealand context. Freeman & Thompson-Fawcett indicate that many New Zealanders come from the countryside rather than from the city. (2) This means a natural lifestyle is more popular in New Zealand. Irregular building forms and an attractive outdoor environment are some of the main aspects that people often prefer. In order to reconcile the contradiction between compact and comfortable, medium density could be an acceptable option for people, to address communal sustainability and maintain the local lifestyle.
TOPOGRAPHY AND HYDROLOGY
Topography, as a natural element is really important to be retained and expressed through landscape architecture as a way to show the understanding of a particular site. A focus on hydrology is another aspect, which strongly connects to ecology. This is especially so for storm water since it is necessary to find the best route of runoff bases in regard to landform and in order for it to flow to the existing surface water. It is also an effective way to supply underground water and balance the whole natural water system.
In regard to the proposed sustainable landscape architectural project, the improvement of water quality and storm water management of the site could be the best place to start first. Site hydrology combines with topography to support this progress.
Following the evidence of site findings, there are three main potential storm water routes located across the sloping area from the southern upland to the northern pond. The utilisation and development of these storm water routes trace along with two water catchments with the natural landform (the small one is sited in the southeast of site) to effectively facilitate the storm water management.
In addition, strategic planting of riparian vegetation and sand grounds beside day-lighted streams and rain gardens which are sitting along buildings, streets or parking spaces help increase or augment the capabilities of the catchment, in terms of cleaning, filtration, and assist with the flow involved with the deceleration of storm water. These environments help to define the diverse landscape spaces. Wildlife habitat will also be enhanced through the integrated waterscape.
The main promenade runs around three naturalised streams, which intends to create a distinctive landscape for pedestrians. These engaging places physically intensify functions of landscape and provide the opportunity to enable greater visibility with respect to the sustainable techniques satisfying people’s aspiration regarding aesthetics. This strongly facilitates the implementation of an ecological and environmental approach in regard to the sustainability of the landscape.
HISTORY AND HERITAGE
Histories as well as the heritage are unique characteristics of each site. Normally, the features of the sites can easily reflect peoples past activities, which are significant, and are often memorable so in an effort to retain and improve the value of the history of the area this is important. And our history, even our heritage is a sort of cultural fortune, as it not only assists to keep the memory and tell the story of our history, it also helps us to understand and identify a site for generations.
In regard to Crown Lynn as a pottery manufacturer, the status and importance of the history and culture of the place are irreplaceable. As the historical representatives, the existing brickwork structures have witnessed the experience of the Crown Lynn site from the beginning and as it developed successfully to its current transformation. Retaining these structures is recommended in this research. In order to embody the economic sustainability, a creative park appears to be the most likely and the most strategic way in order to reutilise and redefine these structures, after restoration and redecoration. A multi-functional identity such as a place for education, exhibitions, art gallery, possible souvenir retailing or market could help the recreational park become more artistic and a more appealing and welcoming venue. At the same time, the value in terms of increasing and improving the land and buildings would make sense and add to the economic sustainability of the place which will certainly be obvious to people, both young and old and locals and visitors, too.
WALKABILITY AND LIVEABILITY
Gahl emphasises the strong relationship between public space and liveable space. The more people walk, the better and more healthy a life they can have.(3) Walkability and accessibility have been the key factors to judge whether a place is liveable or not. In modern society, the vast majority of issues, including traffic congestion, air pollution and noise have been explored and realised, which are caused by the growth in use of private vehicles. Pedestrianism is emerging to be a key goal for future welfare. A healthy, ordered, safe, sustainable and liveable space could be built through attracting increasingly more walkers and cyclists to public spaces. Strengthened public transport systems are encouraged for the goal of ‘green travel’. More public spaces with various services to attract pedestrians are welcoming. It is anticipated that a place that prioritises people and nature will benefit both the economy and environment. So walkability and accessibility will be key goals for the research project.
Moreover, Elkin and McLaren are also interested in the research related to a liveable city. They define “a liveable city as one which provides for a high quality of life…creating an environment conducive to well-being… and is a city that has human contact”. (4) This means a set of functionally public services and spaces which are related to people’s daily lives needs to be intensified to construct a vibrantly liveable and walkable environment, especially for achieving a compact and mixed-use community.
Overall, the intention of transforming a brownfield site into a mixed-use liveable community in the New Zealand context has been strongly discussed. The design goals related to ecological, economic and communal sustainability are argued in regard to the four angles of density, topography and hydrology, and history and heritage, and walkability and liveability. A variety of functional public spaces will be formulated by the development of sustainable design strategies. And in doing so, this project will be able to showcase a sustainable model of transformation, suitable to apply to a wide range of projects throughout the world.
(1) The Auckland Council. (2012). New Lynn Urban Plan 2010-2030. Auckland, New Zealand.
(2) Freeman, C., & Thompson-Fawcett, M. (2003). Living Space – Towards sustainable settlements in New Zealand. Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago
(3) Gehl, J. (2010). Cities for People. Washington, DC: Island Press.
(4) Freeman, C., & Thompson-fawcett, M. (2003)