Catering for the massive forecast growth in the Auckland region over the next decade is a subject of much debate at present. The need to develop more homes, with better transport connections, as quickly as possible, is paramount.
One thing that can’t be forgotten though, in this push to build and deliver at pace, is the need to also effectively build community. Sounds easier said than done and what does that actually mean?
There’s a myriad of theories out there on how this can happen and one that resonates with me is the Egan Review (2003)¹ which suggests if truly sustainable communities are to be realised, it is essential that all of the below components are addressed in the long-term.
1. Social and Cultural
4. Housing and the Built Environment
5. Transport and Connectivity
As Design Manager at Waterfront Auckland, I am primarily involved with housing and built environment aspects of sustainable community development and am acutely aware of impact that a quality built and natural environment has on creating a sense of place, a positive ‘feeling’ for people, and local character.
Sounds like the Holy Grail really and something that the plethora of developers with projects currently underway in Auckland would like to think they aspire to. But is it achievable?
A project I’ve taken a great interest in over the last few years would suggest it is. The Bo01 Housing Estate in the Västra Hamnen (Western Harbour) district of Malmö, Sweden is the first phase of a long-term development plan for the area. Where they’ve succeeded is in ensuring the heritage of the district by keeping old historic industrial buildings and combining that with an abundance of new architectural expressions through the engagement of 21 different architects. These moves have been hugely effective in contributing to the character of the area and creating a unique sense of identity.
Urban parks, meeting places and social areas are provided across the site to encourage interaction amongst local residents.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg for what we can learn from VASTRA HAMNEN and conversely, you don’t need to look too far either for examples of the perils of not building a sense of community, such as the Docklands DEVELOPMENT which has particularly relevance to me as a former Melbournite.
For the next stage of urban renewal in Wynyard Quarter, we have the potential to create a real exemplar for the rest of the Auckland region for how medium density development, in an urban setting, can be imbued with a strong sense of community. Don’t be surprised to see a little bit of Malmo in our approach.
¹Egan Review, 2003 – Office of Deputy Prime Minister, United Kingdom
By RALPH WEBSTER.
This was originally posted on www.waterfrontauckland.co.nz