Xueying Gan is a currently studying towards a Bachelor of Landscape Architecure at Unitec. She attended the Japan Drawing Study tour in September 2018 where she produced the drawings included in this image essay.

TOUR OBJECTIVE: Observe and record 6 urban strolls/encounters/errands/street observations by using drawing, note taking, and cameras/phones during the visit to Japan. Observe Japanese culture to better understand how space performs for different functionality and also how it affects social activities.




Pictured left: The branch of a pine tree reaches out to meet the path – the branch has been carefully protected and supported and takes up quite a lot of path space. The support material blends into the environment both in colour and structure.

Roanji 1.jpg

Pictured left: The Rock Garden consists of only fifteen rocks, white gravel and moss. The garden is surrounded by walls but space tends to open up to allow outer elements in. Trees outside the rock garden wall are considered to be the borrowed landscape for the scene. Compared to western gardens, rock gardens use less variety of materials and are not plant dominated.



ミホ ミュージアム

Pictured left: the view from the end of the tunnel to the main building. After walking through the tunnel it is as if you are entering another world, which presents the scene of the ancient Chinese story: “The Peach blossom spring” where a man accidentally enters a utopia village through a hidden grotto. From the story, people in this utopia village lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, which is the main idea of the design. Using the tunnel to separate the “daily” space and “utopia” space, provides time for visitors to “be secluded from the real world”.

Pictured below: The view outside the museum looking from the northern hallway.



How can 

underused urban residential open space 

be reactivated 

for the benefit of communities?

Plan and Section of multiuse active space

Plan and Section of multiuse active space


Nowadays, low-density single houses are getting replaced with small subdivided dwellings due to the critical housing shortage in Auckland. More and more urban subdivisions have been developed, or have started to develop in recent years. The fact that residential properties are being redivided means that individual property sections are shrinking fast and private backyards are disappearing. As a result, residential open spaces have become more and more socially significant. Public parks may supplement the loss of private open spaces to communities, however there are not enough of them and they are not convenient enough for people to use. As such, there is an opportunity to develop more semi-private/public residential open spaces to fill this need.

During my research process, I have studied two local medium density developments, and have found that the residential open spaces within these developments are all underused. I believe that in order to achieve social interaction within new open spaces, we need to furnish them with more attractive features and develop unique themes for each space. This will facilitate the development of the strong characteristics and dynamics already operating within our neighbourhoods. Freemans Bay golden triangle project shows how these spaces can be reactivated for the benefit of communities. Using simple design moves, which are more about functional arrangements and non-expensive design interventions, make these semi-private/public residential open spaces more usable and comfortable for the community.

The reactivation of residential open spaces opens up opportunities to develop open space networks between neighbourhoods, and increased visual and functional amenities will benefit neighbourhood communities going forward into the next ten years of development in Auckland.

Perspective view of multiuse active space

Perspective view of multiuse active space

Perspective view of multiuse active space

Perspective view of multiuse active space

Perspective view of community garden

Perspective view of community garden

Perspective view neighbourhood street crossing

Perspective view neighbourhood street crossing