Auckland redesign to encourage socialising

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 14:42 27/11/2012

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Auckland is set to shift from a city designed for car travel to one for people to socialise, as areas throughout the CBD are redesigned.

Streets from Karangahape Rd to the waterfront are set to be lined with spots for food and coffee to slow people down on their walking commutes across the city, according to urban designer Ludo Campbell-Reid.

Media were invited on a walking tour of the city this morning with Campbell-Reid, who has worked on major urban design projects in South Africa and London.

"If we slow them down, they'll spend more money, they'll enjoy their city more," he said.

"People like small spaces, intimate spaces, human spaces. They don't like large, gratuitous buildings."

Nine sites across the city will be or have been spruced up. Those that have had a facelift include Aotea Square, Elliott St, Queen St and the Fort St area.

Other streets on the to-do list are High St and Freyberg Square, O'Connell St, Quay St and the area around the Tepid Baths. Most projects are expected to be started within the next two years.

Campbell-Reid said Elliott St was an example of how space could be used, having already become a shared space for pedestrians and cars.

Smith and Caughey's in central Auckland backs on to Elliott St and, according to executive director Terry Cornelius, it has definitely had an impact.

"I don't know if you remember what the street was like before - very dark and narrow, pretty wind-swept and a constant stream of traffic.

"It's now a very pleasant space and people sit out here at lunch-times especially, and so much so that we are developing a cafe actually on Elliott Street, we've received our resource consent to do that."

Espresso on Elliott, the proposed name for the coffee joint, should be open next year.

Another on the to-do list for improvement is the walkway from Aotea Square to Wellesley St, behind the Metro Centre.

According to Campbell-Reid, the walkway is "ugly... not an attractive place to be", which causes people to hurry through.

"It's filled with emergency exits and fire doors... with spots to either have a sleep or throw up on your way home. It doesn't really provide a great public amenity."

He said plans are in the works to take the roof off completely and put some cafes on the ground floor.

"We're going to try to activate the ground floor of the Bledisloe building, maybe put in some restaurants, maybe an enhanced postal service," he said.

"Sky Metro is excited about opportunities to activate the area and punch through some holes into their building, because ultifmately if you get more access into their building, they will do more business - the idea here is to start to open that up."

Campbell-Reid said the goal to build the world's most liveable city is ambitious, but gives the council a big vision to work towards.

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