Issue 3 Placemaking 2013/14

Process and Healing 

Natalie Couch 1ST YEAR Study

I saw this site as having a strong presence of European settlement and the powhiri process seemed appropriate as a framework for design here, as its purpose is to bring people together. It would also acknowledge the presence of Te Kawerau a Maki, and would identify their mana whenua (guardianship and genealogical connection), as well as providing an inclusive and enriching experience for the present day inhabitants, most of whom may not have experienced a powhiri (formal welcoming). It seemed appropriate too that this would occur here; a gateway to the ranges, the sea and the many significant and sacred sites the local Iwi hold close.

I am particularly interested in the potential of the ''medicinal grove'' of native plants that can rehabilitate land and people in tandem. Land was often a cause for clients requiring healing, yet the land itself often required healing not necessarily separately from the clients healing. This draws a direct link between the landscape and the health of the people culturally associated with it. I believe it is by experiencing processes and ceremonies such as these that more understanding and respect will be fostered between Maori and Pakeha, and these relationships will be nurtured and developed. 

Xsection Issue Three 2013/14 Placemaking 

Maximise Minimise

Andrew Priestly 4TH YEAR Negotiated Study

This research project demonstrates alternative strategies in the way golf courses are designed. These alternatives aim to minimize negative impacts on the environment and maximize biodiversity. The project has focused in the first instance on identifying the unique ecological aspects of a particular site. Having established these potentials and problems the focus is then turned to the integration of a design that works with the existing landscape to achieve these objectives; ecology (which relates to maximizing biodiversity and minimizing negative impacts), amenity and finally playability. 

Through the process of design and balancing the three objectives, there is a greater focus on understanding the existing conditions of the landscape as opposed to a normative approach whereby generic strategies are imposed. The potential, which could manifest in any environment, is a golf course, which is truly unique and one that could not appear elsewhere. 

All the perspectives have a poetic sense in the way they capture the typology of this golf course and the outcomes it has aimed to achieve. They demonstrate the key strategies on each individual hole in a way that the viewer can imagine being in the moment, playing that shot or that hole. 

Xsection Issue Three 2013/14 Placemaking 

Kaiahiku Domain

Fiona Ting 2ND YEAR

AMETI Phase 2 is an Auckland Transport initiative to improve connectivity to Eastern Auckland. With only two access points over the Tamaki River, there is much pressure on the currently dominant private vehicular transport system. AMETI Phase two proposes expanding one of these access points, Lagoon Drive, which cuts through Mokoia Pa Headland and runs adjacent to Kaiahiku, Panmure Lagoon. Expanding the road by an additional two lanes will have adverse affects on panmure community. For Panmure, rather than an increase in connectivity, the community will see a further disconnect from their largest public space, Kaiakiki. Cutting away Mokoia Headland will disturb Ngati Paoa tupuna remains - an action similar to digging up a cemetery. These factors demonstrate AMETI Phase two priority of communities East of Panmure over Panmure itself; and in doing so relies on the existing four lanes of private transportation - a transport model that AMETI and the wider Auckland need to move away from.

The designer's alternative proposal converts two lanes of existing private transport to the proposed AMETI P2 bus way. Throughout Lagoon Drive, storm water interventions treat contaminated water coming off the AMETI P2 site as well as from the wider area, in a public wetland situated at the bottom of a catchment zone. The public wetland will be situated in existing Panmure Domain land, amongst YMCA, Panmure Pools, the skatepark and lagoon Drive itself. The design takes cues from the large scale of landscape the site is surrounded by, with Maungerei mountain in view and Tamaki Estuary feeding into Kaiahiku tidal lagoon. A large expanse is sunken and shaped into bunds that form freshwater and tidal wetland zones. The elevated boardwalk becomes the public space, als functioning as a pedestrian and cycle access along Lagoon Drive. Huge Kahikatea swamp trees signal the new public wetland, the presence of water that characterises this place, and reflects the scale and mana of the surrounding landscape.  

Xsection Issue Three 2013/14 Placemaking 

Terra Nova Ayiti


Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Haiti has to face big challenges over the next decades. New homes are needed for the many people who have lost theirs due to the excruciating earthquake in January 2010. But also the rapid growth of the Haitian Population, mainly concentrated on the metropolitan region of Port au Prince, raises the need for further residential development. Nearly all Haiti is deforested. The resulting high risk of landslides concentrates all thoughts on new development on the few plains of the country. But these plains are highly affected by the periodically returning hurricanes and flood events. Finally these plains are the most fertile areas of the mountainous country and therefore the only chance to get emancipated from food imports.

Port-au-Prince, the countries capital is located in the “Cul de Sac Plain”, once the most productive agricultural area in the former French colonies. Today most of the agriculture in the plain lies fallow. Landslides, earthquakes, liquefying soils and devastating flood events struck Port-au-Prince since centuries. Especially the sprawling northern settlements in the Plain are highly exposed to soil liquefaction and flooding.

As the pressure on the government to create new homes is rising, there are first residential and industrial project being developed in and around Zoranjé, a former social housing project in the north western Plain. The current practice, to elevate the ground level in the plain by 1.5 meter through dumping and compacting gravel arises several questions. Is this raise enough to protect the inhabitants from flooding and liquefying? Can there anything be grown on the compacted foundation which would give the inhabitants the opportunity for small scale urban agriculture?

From this starting Point, “Terra nova Ayiti” proposes several landscape interventions in the vulnerable “Plain de Cul-de-Sac”. The different Elements like Biodrainage Strips and irrigation channels with riparian vegetation are simple and proofed agricultural techniques which were not only cheap but easy to apply. The interaction of these elements decreases the risk of flooding and soil liquefaction, and increases meanwhile the productivity of agriculture and biodiversity over the upcoming decades. The design of a landscape, which can be both urban – with an improved resilience - and agricultural – with a high productivity – takes into account that the future of Haiti, and especially of the Cul-de-Sac plain is still uncertain. “Terra Nova Ayiti” imagines a resilient framework of Landscape Infrastructures, buffering extreme rainfall events and storm surges, stabilizing the weak soil, creating habitats and raising the agricultural yield. The proposal does not draw a picturesque design of one possible future situation in the plain, but a system, that is flexible enough to absorb all different thinkable scenarios. 

Xsection Issue Three 2013/14 Placemaking 

Future Protection

Olivia Koch 4th year

The intensification of agricultural land use has occurred as the farmers have responded to economic consumer and exporter demands. With the advancing urban environment, intensification of farmland and loss of habitat, the wide range of biodiversity, community and cultural connections we once had in the rural landscape are disappearing rapidly.

The intention of the project was to establish strategies and frameworks by way of species regenerative projects that help mitigate the impacts that rural processes have on waterways and help future proof farming practices through the expected urban and rural growth.

Analysing the farmed, cultural and environmental aspects of a diary farm gave vital information on the type of design moves that needed to be made in order to reconnect the farm with the community and significant cultural characteristics. Integrating these elements into the farm landscape through restoration projects established a new sense of place for the community and cultural aspects within the rural sector. 

Xsection Issue Three 2013/14 Placemaking 

Lagoon Link Park

Rueben McPeak 2ND YEAR

Building an open space focal-point within Panmure for the coming together of people; community and connection; the creation of a space that wasn't. Lagoon Link Park was motivated by the lack of a public space anywhere near Panmure's retail centre, as well as the loud disjunct between this centre and the eminent Panmure Lagoon. The park bridges many restrictions as well as Lagoon Drive itself. Bands of terracing step down the hill and across the roadway speaking of a pedestrian crossing, while creating distinctive plateaus of alternating community garden and unprogrammed space. A wide promenade fronts the new band of eateries, providing space for alfresco dining as well as a viewing platform across the park and its activities.

The park's formation will counter the further separation of Panmure from its lagoon as is being experienced through the widening of Lagoon Drive in the AMETI Phase two constructions. It will also see community prioritised, with focus being returned to the people, where it should always have been. 

Xsection Issue Three 2013/14 Placemaking 

What is a Place to You?

Alistair Newsome 1ST YEAR

What is a place to you? Maybe the answer is just a fleeting mental image or feeling associated with a certain place and time. Can’t quite put your finger on it? That’s because you’re trying to define something ephemeral and elusive that changes depending on context; who’s asking, why and when. Placemaking requires context and history to combine. Something has always shaped the way we respond to a particular space and that something can only be experience. Experience as an individual or as a collective or community. Perhaps it’s something you touched or were physically involved in or something you read or observed. As humans we rely on this experience, or memory, to shape who we are.

How as landscape architects can we begin to unlock that network of shared and individual responses, to create a common vision of something that reflects what resides within all those myriad people who are involved in and connected to a placemaking project? Such a network has no physical boundaries or definition. When we engage in placemaking we are attempting to harness what has gone before along with the future aspiration of the landscape stakeholders to design a new history.Or should we really Design? Every place has a history before we start any investigation or design, it already exists. We can’t change that, we can reinterpret it but we can’t change it. Once we have made a place it has a new history, a new narrative. We lack long term control so that history will evolve. So perhaps the answer for designers is to interpret a narrative rather than to design a finished product.

A place might be a grand central area, pivotal to the lives of thousands of people or it might be extremely modest in terms of present usage or past intervention; but it still has a history and it has it for a reason. It may be a history of human success or failure, of good or bad decisions, neglect, change or transience, little or no human intervention at all. All of these are distinct in the designers’ palette; they all imbue each site with a unique set of responsibilities for any designer in order to make it a place. To shape and sculpt a site without simply imposing Design or designing at the residents, visitors or the landscape itself is far from straightforward and is the key to successful placemaking. In the case of Oratia Reserve who could, or should, have input and why? What does this place mean to those involved? What has defined Oratia as a space up until now and how can we hone that definition going forward?

Undoubtedly a place that still enjoys a link to its early colonisation by Croatians and those from Victorian Britain, today Oratia could arguably be viewed as a bridging point, both physically and metaphorically, between many disparate entities; east and west Auckland, urban and rural, historical colonial and modern multicultural, C19th Europe and C21st Pacific – the crossing point between a modern city and a wilderness.

In terms of physicality, on one side the site borders Auckland’s western suburbs and the other side plunges almost straight away into rain forest and Piha. So which wins? Or, perhaps more prosaically, how do we meld the two? A central tenet of contemporary placemaking is arguably the bottom up approach of involving and consulting the local people, who, unsurprisingly in the case of Oratia have expressed a multitude of sometimes conflicting needs and desires.

As Joan Clos i Matheu statedthe value of the public good affects the value of the private good” and in the case of Oratia Reserve the narrative is arguably even more complex. Oratia Reserve is a public space but it’s more intimate than that, it’s a very local public space, it doesn’t necessarily belong to Auckland as a whole. There needs to be consideration given to an inner Oratia and outer Oratia within the space and the two elements need to be constructed to complement each other, to compete but not to dominate each other. Auckland needs to be kept at bay to some extent, or at least kept under control in order to allow some of the bucolic charm to remain. The same can be said of the Waitakere Ranges; we can’t deny the relevance of Oratia’s urban fringe location in favour of an idealised notion of untamed forest or coast taking precedence over human need. The reserve must have seating; it must have the apparatus of human presence, food, warmth, shade, comfort, community. It must accommodate activity in all seasons.

If we can approach a site like Oratia armed with a comprehensive understanding of the experience and memory of the site and of the people linked to it, we will continue to act imperfectly but hopefully with a broader and deeper sense of responsibility to process and drive placemaking in a responsible, sustainable way that doesn’t simply add a veneer of design to a place but which makes a genuine attempt to get under skin of the site and of the community in a positive and meaningful way. The idea of placemaking is still used as a tool that reflects how we view ourselves as a society and a culture. It can still be a reflection of contemporary and to some extent mainstream social ideology because that is in itself a reflection of what we collectively hold dear and true as a society; our shared experience. To consider any site such as Oratia from the point of view of memory or shared experience “raises issues and questions that are not merely architectural but also moral, ethical, and philosophical” and requires the design approach to be centred around “unveiling—uncovering as well as anchoring—histories and memories”.

 Previous governments may not, and indeed did not, value landscape or legislate in the same way as we would expect our current and future governments to. Effective and sustainable land management, urban redevelopment and heritage planning are obvious examples of where publicly accepted wisdom is vastly different from one generation, or government, to the next. Certainly now a ‘bottom up’ approach of public consultation and involvement in placemaking alongside legislative bodies and government gives more credence to the legitimacy and driving force of participatory design. As we involve the local community throughout the process of placemaking, however the danger, is always in misinterpreting their collective narrative properly.Arguably the success or failure of a placemaking project “arises from its capacity for establishing dialogues with, and presenting questions about the past (and the future)”. Sometimes the discussion is enough to achieve something in terms of community engagement. To plan for months, years, even decades gives a project its own shape and life. As part of this process we may ask ourselves what are the prevailing ideas or ethos regarding placemaking? What environmental or cultural issues draw us to certain conclusions at any given time? These will change, they always do. People change, political ideology changes, memories change, landscape changes. 

Xsection Issue Three 2013/14 Placemaking 

Artificial Nature

Morgan Taylor 3RD YEAR

Design proposal for a subdivision in Karaka, Auckland which focuses on the integration of storm water infrastructure and public space, to benefit the community at a local level through the sustainable management of natural resources and enhanced amenity values for the community.

Exotic tree species planted around native kahikatea trees provide bright autumnal color and strike a strong contrast between the native vegetation. The exotic tree species emulate the artificial nature of the ponds, acknowledging the infrastructure built into the ponds forming awareness for the community around storm water management. Raised timber boardwalks protect the planting and create a sense of direction for the public alongside the ponds.