Russell Cooper 3RD YEAR

The Sou’Western Sanctuary project was developed out of the exploration of how green infrastructure could be incorporated into the future development of motorway networks.

It is the current view that motorways activate regions at a human level, easing congestion, allowing direct links, enabling resource flow – aspects that have become the defining points for regional success. Working on the premise that motorways act as the strongest regional link throughout Auckland, how can we hinge conservation values and ecosystem development on them? What if motorways activated the land around them on a vastly different level?

The chosen site has been developed to explore the way in which conservation sanctuaries could be developed in an urban environment. It looks to explore the way in which motorway systems might give back to the environmental fabric of a city, finding a way to suggest that an appropriate mitigation for capital works on roading development is the development of urban eco-sanctuaries. This design output takes cues from urban design to reinterpret pest proof sanctuary typologies as accessible recreation opportunities, valuable regional assets and integral community initiatives. The site at the Hillsborough Road off-ramp on the South Western Motorway was selected for its position adjacent to the motorway network, it samples a vast selection of topographic environments to present a variety of ecosystems suitable for a range of threatened plant introductions, including wetland, coastal broadleaf forest and exposed slope for scrubland development.

It was also vital that the development fed into a growing recreation spine to create a design that captures the mind and heart of the community, providing them with a sense of ownership and pride for the protection of native plant and animal species. The sanctuary would connect into the Onehunga Foreshore walkway development, providing a link into Mt Eden, through Monte Cecilia Park, suggesting future ability to walk between Auckland’s two main harbours.

The development sets up pest proof fencing around the site that is currently scrub and pasture grass, developing shade domes that allow for the presentation of understory plantings that will in turn develop seed banks and ensure the longevity of native species. Recreation opportunities are present, along with education and community involvement that could potentially see the release and protection of threatened New Zealand invertebrates, with a nod to the future of charismatic New Zealand species.

The design is an exploration of ‘Exchange’, idealising what we could give back to the landscape that we are building upon.