Melissa Marjo




Organised and funded by Urban Pantry and supported by Waterfront Auckland, ‘Growing the Future’ was held at the iconic Silo6. From April 17th through to 27th, Silo6 was transformed into a lush yet gritty urban garden. Unitec Diploma Landscape Design students, Sam Jennings, Melissa Marjo, Trish Reynolds and Sally Trolove, led the design. Created specifically for ‘Growing the Future’ the project explored and celebrated food growing for inner-city residents through installations, artwork, workshops and film.


The site chosen was inside one of the 14 meter high, 7 meter wide concrete silos. This unique space provided some particular challenges, not least keeping the garden looking its best over the ten day event with minimal sunlight. 

Light sources were limited to narrow interior louvre windows that allowed light from adjacent silos, interior electric lighting and an east facing roller door that could be opened during the day – although this exposed the garden to strong wind.

The design reflected Wynyard Quarter’s beginnings as an industrial site, formerly a working port and tank farm, as well as its more recent incarnation as a public park.

The requirements for the materials used were low cost and recycled; achieving a high impact installation on a limited budget. Materials used included rusted corrugated iron panels, bricks, concrete cinder blocks and recycled air conditioning ducting, all supported by timber framing and scaffolding to create the industrial look desired.


A key challenge for this project was the timing of the exhibition. We had just ten weeks to produce plants of sufficient quality and quantity to be at their peak very late in the growing season. This was achieved by growing most of the plants from seed in the MIT greenhouses at Unitec; supported by the donation of large citrus and feijoa trees that added both height and maturity to the exhibit.

The plants were all edible and chosen for their colour, foliage and/or flowers. A broad selection of 20 varieties aimed to show that even citrus and corn can thrive in these confined urban spaces. Companion plants such as marigolds and nasturtiums were used for bright and contrasting colour. 

Anticipating that the plants would need to be frequently rotated during the festival due to the limited light within the silo, several hundred plants were grown. This allowed for under-performing plants to be replaced with stronger specimens – ailing plants were returned to the greenhouse to be revived. Once installed, the plants were rotated four times over ten days and generally coped well, despite the lack of light. 



At the end of the event attention turned to disposing and dismantling the installation in a thoughtful and sustainable manner. Metal was returned to the scrap yard, and bricks and blocks were reused as fill for a construction development. Timber framing was returned to the Unitec workshop for reuse and the plants were donated to local community gardens or composted. Just one rubbish bag went to landfill.

Tui Glen

Bela Grimsdale



Analysis of Tui Glen Reserve revealed the relationship between the water and the land. How could one explore the significance of these within the site and the surrounding landscapes? 

Pursuing this relationship led to tracing the waterways back to their original source, resulting in an analogy of whakapapa, genealogy and a family tree. Streams, rivers, and creeks all have names and tie back to original ancestors, they represent a natural path of genealogy crossing the land, overlaying stories and histories. 

Stories connect whakapapa to the landscape, the stories of people who have come before and people yet to come are overlaid into the land. Water becomes a metaphor of genealogy connecting landscape back to whakapapa.

This design is a response to the specific conditions of the site and an interpretation of its long history.

The topography of the site falls steeply away from the road, levelling out into grassed open space, before falling once again into Henderson Creek.The pathways are derived from the connections between the waterways and whakapapa; allowing raised steps and pathways to interweave with the path of the water, drawing people along it to create new stories.

The design overlays the interaction of people, water and land as they travel across the site. Through respect to whakapapa the water is purified using riparian planting, swales, a settlement pond and floating wetland booms.


Te Kerekere Roycroft


Public needs are continually changing in the cultural landscapes we occupy, especially in high use areas. The utility required fifty years ago differs from that needed today. Spaces emerge and develop according to a number of external influences, most notably the available local services. Mt Albert town centre, chosen as the site for this investigation, features a parking lot located between the train station and a bus stop near the main intersection.

The disuse and degradation of the car park can be attributed to these factors from outside the site boundaries making the space feel somewhat cramped and awkward. The same external influences mean Mt Albert Town Centre currently acts as a transit stop on the way in to the city rather than a destination. This studio called for a redesign of this space as an area for gatherings and public events and redevelopment of the town centre as a transport hub following the connection of the train station to the bus stop with a pedestrian bridge.

The redesign of the Mt Albert Town Centre hopes to bring more people through the space and subsequently boost the economic production of the area. Designing this space for the future encompasses re-utilisation of these derelict spaces in order to make them relevant to the diverse range of people that will use the space. 

Using emergent design principles and exploring a wide variety of possible outcomes will ensure the long term success

Theory of the Non-Sentimental

Alex Luiten



This design aims to recognise the sentimental connotations of the site. A strong east to west axis connects the site to the wider context. This resonates as a counterpoint between Colin McCahon’s connection to landscape, his approach to how it is represented visually, and Geoff Park’s writing on landscape as theatre. Interventions are fluid, experimental andreliant on how the space may change over time.

Installation of sculptural frames serve as a lens and a gateway, seeking to question how we view landscape personally and historically. 

Colin McCahon changed how landscape within New Zealand was represented. Where we once only saw pastoral, colonial scenes, McCahon described how a connection to a personal landscape could be created over time and space, a spiritual connection that became part of his identity as well as his work. His work was dark and provocative, its content became what surrounded him;

 “I am not painting protest pictures. I am painting about what is still there and what I can see before the sky turns black with soot and the sea becomes a slowly heaving rubbish tip. I am painting what we have got now and will never get again. This is one shape or form, has been the subject of my painting for a very long time.” (1)  

This idea of presence in the moment served as a cornerstone idea in my design which was further developed when I went to Smiths bush in the middle of suburban Auckland and experienced the feeling and mood of a deep dark landscape, with a cathedral of Kahikatea overhead and the richness and smell of decaying plant matter under foot. This created the tone of my design, represented by the rich brown hue that has been used.

Geoff Park’s writing on the New Zealand Landscape and how it is experienced as theatre is both insightful and relevant, Oratia sits as a gateway between the urban and the rural. Is this landscape something to be looked at and photographed or is it to explored and experienced? 

Landscape discourse seems overly focused with the idea of the sentimental. The notion that by providing a connection with the space by implementing a scaled installation on the site of some memorable moments of the past somehow provides resonance within the design, seems like a disconnected starting point. This design sees that approach as a barrier. Instead it inherently understands the connotations associated with the site instead of being a framework it becomes the vernacular, the accepted.

The main focus is on visual and memory connections within the site. View shafts connect to the wider context and are enhanced by the installation of seven sculptural apertures that resemble a frame or a gateway, questioning how we view landscape personally and historically. The site encourages people to explore through their own interaction rather than be led into a preconceived moment. 

Vegetation on site exists in swathes with no exclusivity to native or exotic. A grid of native Kauri and Rimu is composed adjacent to exotic grasses, allowing the site to naturalise into a unique form that will develop and change over time. Growth and reseeding will have an entropic cyclic effect that will adjust to the conditions. Hydrology on site is of major importance and consideration of planting along the stream side to promote long term health is one of the designs key points.


(1) P, Ward. (2009) Colin McCahon The Luminary. Retrieved from

Hidden History

Sharon Eccleshall



Phyllis Reserve is part of a network of parks that hinge off Oakley creek. Oakley creek (Te Auaunga) is the longest urban stream in the Auckland and is of significant ecological importance. 

The objective of this project was to improve the site through the addition of new clubrooms, upgraded soccer fields and to provide recreational benefits for the local community, whilst enhancing and protecting the adjacent ecological corridor including Oakley Creek. 

During the initial research and discussions, an understanding of the potential effects of urban development on the waterways and methods of mitigation emerged. Phyllis Reserve has surface potential with its contextual location, regenerating vegetation and adjacent creek. Although the site has some interesting hidden artifacts, with glimpses of the past scattered along the creek banks, my initial thought was to find a simple symbol that could be used in a variety of ways to create a sense of connection, association and continuity. 

The truncated icosahedron shape emerged from its association with the soccer ball; the interlocking pattern provides a structural contrast to the soft forms of the bordering vegetation and meandering creek. Overlaying the hexagonal pattern across the site created areas for catchment and terracing. These shapes provided opportunities for retaining banks, filtrating and mitigating water and a channel for pedestrian circulation. 

The walkways are framed with white blocks, providing seating and a complimentary link in material to the new building. The vibrancy of the white also creates a clear path of connection throughout the site. 

The wetlands created on site are outlined with Corten weathering steel and bent to form seamless shapes. The use of weathered steel creates a contrasting palette to the surrounding greenery. The design of the wetlands and retaining features will reduce the damaging effects of the urban fringe in the ecological area. Structural shapes that emerge from the landscape begin to symbolise the emerging history of the site; a stark reminder of what is hidden and what is permeating from the past. 

Parakai wetland reserve

James Currey


Parakai is widely recognised for the strong presence of geothermal activity within the area, which supports the highly regarded Parakai pools complex. Situated 40 minutes from Auckland’s CBD, Parakai serves as a popular holiday destination for many of Auckland’s residents and draws many people to the area.

The surrounding landscape is for the most part untouched and ecologically rich, due to the fact that only small farming communities have been occupying the landscape; with minimal impact over the past few decades.

Parakai’s current population is set to increase dramatically with many subdivisions already planned and in place for the future. Alongside with Auckland’s current housing crisis its very likely that Parakai is set for a vast change. The natural setting which has been so prominent over the years will be subjected to a range of environmental threats as more people occupy the landscape.

The two main drivers of the design were focused on ecologically enhancing the area through a non invasive design; which would support the wildlife throughout the site. The second was to ultimately expand on the tourism productivity that the pools currently provide. 

The design for site was to transform the area into a wetland reserve; expanding and integrating on the pool complex’s success and the existing wetlands formed by the Kaipara tidal river from the north. Water will be drained from the pools complex into a wakeboard cable pool. This will provide another tourism feature which is heavily supported by the pools and the existing geothermal activity. From there the water will drain down a canal with interactive stepping stones and through to the wetland. Board walks will allow for access throughout the site whilst avoiding the natural bogging throughout the wet seasons. 

The site will allow for an increase in tourism growth for the Parakai community. Due to the sites location within Parakai it will help to serve as an ecological hub with housing developments built up around the reserve. The site will support large areas of wetland planting and provide access throughout the site and helping to raise interest and awareness regarding current ecological issues.

Emerging Communities

Sharon Ecchelshall, Glenn Ridley & Nick SlatterY



This Negotiated Studio project focused on the redevelopment of Point Chevalier town centre. The design process involved consultation with Pasadena Intermediate School students and Chris Casey of the Point Chevalier Social Enterprise Group.

The emergence of boutique, eclectic communities requires a sense of place, an anchor that grounds the locals and provides a communal connection for individuals to engage in conversations with the broader demographics of the area.

Our approach to enhancing the Point Chevalier community hub placed emphasis on this anchor and involved research into community psychology. Through our exploration we began to refine our objective, as we realized the effects of change, material development, automated services and impersonal glitches. The result; insular, disengaged humans within fragmented communities. 

The design creates a place to nurture the resistance of community to create a space that caters for the dynamic demographic of Point Chevalier, through a safe, multifunctional space with many options for social interaction. The circular theme emerged from the cyclic relationship between human engagement and happiness. The aesthetically pleasing meeting place gives residents a point of connection where they can fill their emotional tanks with happiness through feelings of inclusion and belonging. The success of these boutique communities relies heavily on involvement. Humans belong in networking communities; they need to interact frequently with other people. 

This space includes unique design elements; a sculptural art piece by local year 11 students, which symbolizes family and unity. An installation of petrified totem poles, of several significant materials that reflect the relationship and stories of local iwi with the surrounding landscape. The site creates spaces of enclosure and safety through the cloaking of plants across the space, whilst main lines of travel are wide and accommodating of large crowd movements. This is not downtown; this is the emergence of suburban relief. 

Culture, Space and Place

Erica van der Zanden 



The history of the site lies deep within the multi-layered, interwoven fabric of the landscape; ancestors use this narrative to inform cultural life and identify with place. The project explores considerations for designing a papakāinga for Ngāti Huri, a rural Marae in South Waikato. Ngāti Huri’s ancestral land is integral to their physical, spiritual, emotional, social and economic well-being. The design strategy is consistent with Ngāti Huri’s values and contemporary environmental principles. The intention is to design a low impact development, protecting, restoring and enhancing the connection to the land, rivers and streams.

The design will contribute to a vibrant future for a thriving rural community, whilst addressing the issues around cultural landscapes and ecological performance of development. Through extensive analysis of the site, local and regional context in terms of cultural, economic and ecological values, lead to the designs rational; that the tangible features are just as important as the intangible features .

The design itself reveals major viewpoints through to significant sites as you meander down a steep slope paved to the local stream that runs past the back of Pikitu Marae. The pathway gives way to platforms for wānanga, places to meet and share knowledge, discuss, deliberate and consider. The sites are shaped by the lands former inhabitants and include urupā (grave sites), pā sites, hāngī stones, rock art and previous house sites. All intangible sites are referenced through the design with obscured, subtle orientation; all with the Marae as the center point because they are considered to be wāhi tapu (scared) to the Ngati Huri people.

The development of Pikitū Marae provides the opportunity for Ngati Huri to return home to their ancestral lands and develop alongside it. The sustainable design integrates vegetable gardens, a nursery, ātea (open space), stream restoration and community buildings to create a self-sufficient, resilient and sustainable community that caters to the wide demographics of the Ngāti Huri people.