Camp Void

Russell Cooper



Emergence as a theory has an intrinsic inference of time. Unpacked, the concept alludes to the way in which a set of pressures or new understandings give rise to a new thinking, method or an imminent need for design. It is an exploration of how time has the ability to reveal the way that a system changes, therefore the way we should respond as landscape architects. 

At a basic level emergence can be reduced to a generative framework; defined units within a specific environment, that evolve to develop specific outputs with immediate consequences for design. Simply; reactions within time, that have the ability to change the output of needs and requirements.

The challenge arising from emergent theory is a need to design static systems that are tangible entities for construction, which have an ability to present a platform for new emerging behaviours of a population or ecosystem. 

Within a city, emergent behaviours occur on many scales, both sanctioned and unsanctioned. A city that enables transition and progression holds adaptability as a mark of success, but how do we allow for the ‘correct’ emergence? What behaviours and actions are appropriate? It becomes a question of accepting standard solutions, or allowing entirely different concepts, with the ability to transition with a population. To define a new concept of city progression.

Auckland is a city where space is at a premium and continually needs to be activated, even in the most marginal of urban environments to ensure citywide vibrancy and productivity. In Auckland the way that space is transitioned is becoming something surrounded by a slow growing sense of exploration and free thought.

The city’s governance and communities are becoming more comfortable with pop up and temporary solutions, with temporary street vendors, markets and events - allowing programmatic re-appropriation with sanctioned activity. 

What is more interesting is the way that unsanctioned emergent behaviours occur in a city and the spaces that enable it. More specifically for this project, the way that accommodation alternatives have been expressed in Auckland with vehicle inhabitation. An activity that has been deemed inappropriate in many locations, but one, given the current context of Auckland’s housing issues should be explored to determine if it provides a solution to Auckland’s housing crisis.

This project is an experiment into the way that marginal and transitional spaces can be activated to contribute to housing, with a diverse offering of spatial and financial configurations to develop a viable, transitional community that exists in new and exciting ways within Auckland. Working to locate an answer to the research question, “how can accommodation alternatives be inserted into developing urban landscapes as a response to Aucklands housing crisis?”

The exploration of terrain vague spaces and their existence in Wynyard Quarter was pivotal to the premise of this project. This landscape typology validated temporary, transient interventions, therefore an admission that failure was acceptable, due to the condition of termination of activity at some point to allow the realisation of the Wynyard Development Plan. 

The way that terrain vague spaces are currently appropriated in Auckland contributes little to the future visions for Wynyard Quarter, therefore this reimagination of the temporary sets a precedent for the permanent activities to come, suggesting that high quality ideas are necessary even at the predeceasing stages of development. 

A key moment of understanding that enabled the actuation of this project, was the simple notion that land is valuable. There is a price on terrain vague, just like there are huge returns to be made out of current re-appropriation techniques of parking and storage; councils will never enable land use unless there is revenue to be generated or there are quantifiable outcomes benefiting the rate payer to constitute a public goods project. Therefore to present a viable scheme there needed to be a realisation of monetary actuation, to determine who fronts the capital expenditure and who contributes to the operational expenditure. This was a key reason behind transitioning the scheme into parallel alignment with public space as opposed to situation within it, in order to define and understand tenure, land investment units and attributable profit. What has resulted is a business concept that makes use of a digital platform to implement camp ground and body corporate management models to situate a transitional community and appropriate structural advancements on Auckland’s readily transitioning Wynyard Quarter.