THE DISAPPEARING BACKYARD | Ge Shi
underused urban residential open space
for the benefit of communities?
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.