Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Past is Another Country

Using your own neighbourhood, identify a feature (eg green space, road, house, utility supply, block layout, shopping precinct etc) that is an example of how what was done in the past would not necessarily be done now. Can you identify why it might have been done then and not now? How does it influence (ie restrict or otherwise) what is done today?


  1. In my community of Howick, we have main street style shopping that has a village feel- this works really well with the idea of Howick being one of the earlier parts of Auckland to be settled by Europeans.
    Amidst this character, was a large shopping mall that was simply a huge block building painted bright green. At the time this was built I am sure they felt it was a move towards the future for Howick and would boost business in the area. However, when I would go through it 10-15 years ago it was derelict. No one liked going to this mall because of the greater opportunities and experiences to be had at other malls such as Botany Town Centre or Pakuranga Plaza or for a better shopping experience people would walk the main street of the village rather than go to 'Howickville' Mall.

    This example in my community shows how something was done in the past and thought to have been a progressive move for the area but as time went on peoples needs and desires changed and that mall was made redundant.

    NOW, however, the mall has been converted/is in the process of being converted, into a mixed use development of residential apartments and retail/commercial uses; an action that is hugely beneficial to the direction Howick wants to be going in and will hopefully be a sustainable form of development.

    If you want to see images and an article on the history of this mall and what it is becoming you can see it on this website :

  2. I live in Kingsland and the vibe of the neighborhood is about to change radically with the Rugby World Cup. Thus something that was done in the past which might have been done differently now is locating New Zealand's biggest stadium in the middle of a residential area.

    Eden park was built over 110 years ago (long before the Town and Country Planning Act, RMA or district plan zoning) and was probably the result of ad hoc planning, they needed sports ground so they found a greenfield section nearby and buit it.

    Today if there was no stadium in Auckland and one was to be built I imagine it would be located either on a greenfield site or a well transit serviced industrial area where the noise and traffic impacts could better be absorbed by the surrounding environment better than a residential area. Such as the Mt Smart Stadium. Inner city stadiums are so being popular show pieces for world cities too, although these are costly and so is the space on which they are located.

    Picture of Eden Park in the context of residential properties surrounding it http://edenpark.co.nz/about/about-eden-park/

    Georgia Stillwell 4910474

  3. Old Manurewa is the pinnacle of middle class suburbia. The section in my neighbourhood range from about 650m2 to 850m2 each containing a detached home with 3 to 5 bedrooms. Everyone has a front yard, back yard, direct street access and their own garage. My neighbourhood’s built form reflects the prosperities period in New Zealand history, where typical family sizes were larger and there was no concern about sustainable uses of land. This style of develop does not occur today because of the metropolitan urban limit and the drive to increase densities per hectare. Many New Zealanders still want to live in this kind of neighbourhood and are will to pay the high prices. The continuous popularity and location of these kinds of suburbs (especially those containing heritage protected homes) makes it difficult to create the higher density living in prime locations which council’s want for Auckland.

    Rhezza Layco

  4. I live in Bucklands Beach (up a hill thankfully), and the entire coastline in this suburb has been developed with residential dwellings. This isn't exactly a historical process that no longer occurs, but by the end of this century I would expect the coastal properties to be abandoned and all further coastal development to have ceased. The property owners got a taste of how sea level rise will affect them when a king tide pushed by on-shore winds flooded a large number of properties in January this year. These events are likely to become more frequent.

    The coastal development of Bucklands Beach will serve as a burden on the rest of the area, as displacement will increase demand for uphill housing. Unfortunately coastal and cliffside development is just too attractive for affluent people.

    Anthony Blomfield

  5. Also I live near Howick and have very fond memories of the old Howickville mall that Claire has talked about from when I was a child. The mall was never large, but was bustling even during weekdays because of the older population of the suburb. It is a prime example of the inefficient mall development style, where such large developments consume a large number of resources and land space, and then become redundant when a larger mall is built five minutes down the road. It really makes me question what Auckland planners are thinking when this development is allowed to occur so frequently.

    Anthony Blomfield

  6. I live in Grey Lynn, one of the older suburbs in Auckland. Like other older suburbs, Grey Lynn was planned using the grid layout. The block sizes in Grey Lynn are generally less than 200m in length and 100m wide, a size that is easily permeable. The grid layout allows suburbs to be adaptable as rectangular blocks can be changed over time and having clear sight lines helps navigation and sense of place.

    Grey Lynn was planned in a time before cars dominated Auckland; people either walked to the inner city to work or caught a tram that ran down Great North Road or Ponsonby Road. Unfortunately once the car began to dominate how people travelled, Auckland’s block structure and layout changed to suit, blocks became larger and the cul-de-sac became popular to create safer streets. This layout, which occurs all across Auckland has created suburbs where it is impossible to walk anywhere, and made it increasingly difficult to implement efficient public transport.

    But hopefully planners are now aware of the problems larger block structures, and cul-de-sacs create, and it seems newer developments such as Stonefields, are beginning to use the grid layout again.

    From google maps, the lay out of Grey Lynn: http://g.co/maps/4mvn compared to Browns Bay on the North Shore: http://g.co/maps/2ywv and the new development of Stonefields: http://g.co/maps/qc4s

  7. ^
    Forgot to add this:

    Rereata Hardman-Miller 123628 rhar246

  8. I have just recently moved to Glenfield, a suburb in North Shore. Glenfield has been previously considered as a working class suburb. It is now filled with large families and first-home buyers due to its relatively affordable prices compared to other nearby suburbs in North Shore. The industrial development in Glenfield in the past has resulted in a car-friendly environment that in my opinion is not so enjoyable for pedestrians. Wairau Valley is filled with large-scale, bulky developments such as car dealers, Westfield Mall, supermarkets and petrol stations. The big houses and backyards as well as cul-de-sac roads that are designed in the past, have significantly contributed to the car-orientated environment in Glenfield found today. There was not much concern about sustainable developments back then due to the great availability of land.

    Today if newer residential developments were to be built around Glenfield, I would imagine it would be medium to high density and transit-oriented, to maximise access to public transport. This is seen in the neighbouring suburb of Takapuna where medium to high density residential apartments are emerging at its centre, where shops and buses to and from the CBD operate daily.

    Here is a picture of the most recent high-rise residential development in Takapuna, that Im sure most of you have seen from across the bridge in CBD!

  9. ^ forgot to put this on my comment above
    Yasmin Tapiheroe 1247099

  10. I live in Clevedon but Papakura is my nearest town is Papakura. The building this was developed in the past and that would not necessarily be done now due to it being a complete failure is the accent point building located at 209 GSR in the main street of Papakura. Basically the building was developed as a small mall. The lower two levels are dedicated to carparking, level 3 to shops and level 4 to the library and the museum. Level 3 haS pedestrian access to GSR. This was a failure and would probably not be done now as the retail space has failed to attract customers. It worked ok untill DEKA shut down and then all the other retail stores closed as well and the gym moved out. The positive that has come out of this failure is that level 3 has now been completely re-designed as a community space which includes meeting room, an education centre, a cafe the library and museum (moved down from level 4. There are also plans to move the art gallery into the building. This was totally not the intention of the building but obviously the demand for retail space was not as high as the developer expected and after 10 years of being a wasted space I think the option that has been developed is possibly the best thing that could have happened.
    I am trying to add photos to this but it doesn't seem to work so I will just add links to my flickr.

    Link to the photo

    Link to the photo

    chanel hargrave

  11. Ellerslie is a small suburb, located approximately 5 km south east of the central business district. From its foundation, it was separate from Auckland, and right up until 1989, it even had its own council, the Ellerslie Borough Council. Today, it retains the feeling of a 'village,' when compared with many of Auckland's other homogenous suburbs.

    However, with the development of the Southern Motorway in the 1960s, the suburb was effectively cut in two, by a hulking highway. The lack of consideration of the effects that this was to have on Ellerslie is evident.

    Streets were randomly cut off, destroying a previously, rather legible street layout. Today, much traffic congestion in Downtown Ellerslie, is caused by Main Highway's (Ellerslie's main boulevard) complicated route over the Southern Motorway.

    Access to the railway station was cut off from the town centre. Today, this railway station must be accessed by a narrow footbridge, or via a seedy underground tunnel.

    Obviously, the motorway has had a drastic impact on Ellerslie's amenity. The noise and fumes that it generates has negative consequences for those living next to it.

    The development of the motorway caused a significant economic decline in Downtown Ellerslie. The area became run-down, and abandoned. It is really, only since 1996 that things have improved drastically.

    Today, one would hope, that council planners and engineers would place this motorway underground, in a tunnel, or alter its path to avoid the Ellerslie Town Centre dramatically. The proposed Waterview tunnel, is a prime example, of what should have been done in Ellerslie.

    To see a picture of Ellerslie today, click on the link below:


    Simon Christopher Mitchell 1284770

  12. I live in New Lynn and an example of what was done in the past that wouldn't work today is the layout and design of the old transport station.

    Located in the heart of the New Lynn town centre was a main bus and train station that failed to make effective connections with one another to be used to its full potential. There was car dominated road that separated these two stations and a roundabout 10-20 meters away from the train station that disrupted traffic movements whenever a train was coming through. Pedestrian movement in this area was also strained because it was hard to cross the road without traffic light and vehicles coming from so many directions. I think what they have tried to do her in the past was to provide these modes of public transport and encourage people to use them, but failed to think about how it will all function together with the movement of cars, people,trains and buses all at once.

    With these issues in mind, the recent redevelopment of the transport station is a reflection of what was done in the past influences today. The road separating the bus and train has been removed and entire transport station is pedestrian oriented. No vehicles can drive through. The roundabout has been removed and that space has been transformed into a shared space zone. The rail line have been lowered into an underground trench to allow seamless traffic and pedestrian movement above ground and theres also 'park and ride' space provided. Needless to say, New Lynn has been transformed into a functional transit oriented development that the past has failed to achieve.

    Mary Wong

  13. I live in Whenuapai which is outside the Auckland MUL and quite a rural area. One of the few things that separates Whenuapai from other rural villages is the RNZAF air base. What is interesting about this airbase is what is situated literally right next to it – a primary school. The likelihood of a primary school being allowed to be built so close to an air base today is pretty much nil for a huge number of reasons including the noise and disruption. The only reason I can think for locating it there is due to the shops nearby and potentially a larger population of residents to service.
    While the base is still in use today, operations on it have been greatly reduced with a view of the base being shut down in the future. From the schools perspective it will be interesting to see what goes in on the land next to it and whether it is influenced by the air base being there first.

    Melissa Spearman
    mspe052 - 1265035

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. I live in Onehunga and I found it interesting to see where the Te Papapa and Onehunga train stops are located. This rail line was re-opened and developed, along with the train stations. Understandably, development of new stations in better situated areas would have been difficult, but this is an aspect I believe would be done differently now, if new stations were to be developed.

    Currently, the Te Papapa station is located in a light- industrial area, with close proximity to some residential streets. Along with this, the station has no space for pick up or drop off areas as it is located in between two buildings. The Onehunga station is located at towards the industrial end of Onehunga Mall Road. Today, it may have been better to place these stations closer to major attractors in Onehunga, such as ‘Dressmart,’ as the current placement reduces the stations convenience. It seems that this may have been done because the geographic composition was different in 1873, when the rail line was first opened.

    Heres a link to some photos where the Onehunga rail line stations can be seen http://nzrailphotos.co.nz/gallery.php?show=&page=14

    Jayesh Parekh


  16. The heritage houses located within Parnell have always presented to me a unique example of historic planning/architecture transplanted within a modern context. These dwellings can be characterised by large open space front yards, bound by a picket fence and large villa or bungalow style building (I will endeavor to upload a photo example of this at a later date).

    The extremely high demand for property/land that has existed within Parnell for the past two decades or so has ensured that such developments are sadly no longer able to occur. These properties have been replaced by high density terraced or mixed use style apartments.

    Despite being a discontinued development style, these heritage dwellings make significant contributions to the character, streetscape and general pedestrian amenity that exists throughout the area. Key examples of this can be seen within Parnell Village, which derives its character from the presence of such historic buildings within a modern setting.

    An example of this character and setting that is derived from heritage buildings can be seen in the image below;

    Harry Halpin

  17. there is a bridge leading toward the Henderson town centre from great north road, which is designed as a gate way with high spires and illumination at night, the bridge is rather unusual, and quite pleasant looking, this is a new development finished only in the last few years and is a stark contrast to the original bridge that is purely functional in design and without any special form or interesting factors. this is the result of increased emphasis on architectural styles and local identity can be in part attributed to the need to create a local brand for internal competition of resources, and also as response to globalisation to remain as a unique area.
    Fengqiao Han
    ID: 4596921

  18. On the hibiscus coast I think the main topic for discussion is that there is one road in and out. The area use to be a holiday destination and I think the idea of it being a busy and vibrant residential town was not provided for in it's future plans. My mother remembers when she holidayed here that it was a gravel road in many parts. Now today there was numerous dicussions surrounding the placement of a bridge direct to the motorway to avoid the long winded process of getting off the peninsula and onto the motorway, where you spend a long time heading north only to backtrack and head south. I think today this area would of been disigned much different. Firstly for the fact that its layout location make it a very car dominated area and secdonly for the issues that having one entry and exit road holds.

    Olivia Wech 1206908

  19. In the past cul-de-sacs were favoured as they created safer streets and kept traffic out of residential streets where it was not desired so that residents could enjoy a more quieter neighbourhood that eliminated strange cars driving loudly past and a safer neighbourhood where children could play close to homes and in the street without the danger of being run over. Over recent years cul-de-sacs have become symbolic of life in suburbia. My neighbourhood has numerous cul-de-sacs which makes it hard for people to take what could have been a short walk across the neighbourhood into a reasonably long walk as you often have to go the long way because of the sheer number of cul-de-sacs that make orientation difficult and walking inconvenient for the pedestrian. Often or not cul-de-sacs force people into their cars which in turn creates a dependence on the car and promotes an obesogenic environment. However in recent years there has been a shift away from cul-de-sacs as many urban planners try to limit the number of cul-de-sacs that characterise neighbourhoods in heading towards more of a grid layout that promotes an environment better suited to the pedestrian.

    Holly Coates

  20. I live in the Glenfield area and one distinct feature in this suburb is the sometimes long and windy cul-de-sac street layout influenced by the Garden City movement in the 1950's and popularized by Unwin and Parker's design in the Hampstead Garden Suburb. Initially cul-de-sacs have been short, straight streets of about 100 metres with just a few houses. It has been an instrument to control through traffic and promote residential safety in the neighbourhood by allowing slow car movement to and from dwellings. Cul-de-sacs have been perceived as a nice neighbourhood to live in because of the calm and tranquility it brings being away from main roads. However, more recently, cul-de-sacs are cirticised for its lack of interconnectedness having social impacts to the safety and well being of the community. One extreme example in our area is in Glendhu Road where "Although the two parts are separated by just 50, the drive between them is about 3.5 km" (Auckland Council, 2011).
    The reality of cul-de-sacs as seen in Glenfield contrary to perceptions is one of isolation and separation from other activities, resulting to perhaps unintended social problems such as lack of social interaction, and sense of neighbourhood where burglaries are quite common incidents. This is also exacerbated lack of safe pedestrian and bicycle network, thus encouraging more car use that discourages social interaction. As the example in Glendhu Road, residents are proposing for a bridge to connect the road for pedestrian and bicycle access.
    Also, although most cul-de-sacs in Glenfield have pedestrian access linking other end of streets and or to a nearby reserve, this are seen as dangerous places to walk to especially at night. With the negative realities outweighing the perceived benefits cul de sac street layouts are being discouraged, promoting the more social friendly interconnected grid layout in urban design.

    Sources: Reconsidering cul-de-sacs (http://www.uctc.net/access/24/Access%2024%20-%2006%20-%20Reconsidering%20the%20Cul-de-sac.pdf)

    Link to Glendhu Road example: A step closer (http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/OurAuckland/News/Pages/astepcloser.aspx)

    Abigail Arias

  21. Living in Oranga, with specific regard to my immediate surroundings, I have noticed the heavy influence of windy roads and dead end streets. These create problems with permeability and the way in which people move through the environment. The dead end streets and the layout creates confusion especially for someone who does not frequently pass through. I myself have become lost in the maze of roads and pedestrian walkways that intersect the large blocks when walking home after work or from school.

    I understand that this may have been favorable for developers and people when it was constructed but it has no place in today’s modern planning systems. It has created dangerous travel routes and breaks up the block in a way that prevents easy movement. Today it would be more beneficial to stick to a simple grid layout that is easy to pass through and one that ensures easier and closer access to main roads which accommodate public transport.

    Ben Christian-Webb

  22. When I was a little girl, the most popular traffic form in China was cycling. China used to be the biggest cycling country in the world. However, as the rapid increase of economy, Chinese people rely on auto vehicle more and more. If there is any chance, people would take a private car or taxi, rather than using public transportation or cycling. There are some reasons; firstly, public transportation cannot meet the demand due to large amount of population; secondly, Chinese traffic policy not as restrict as it is in New Zealand, cycling is a dangerous choice in China. Although the government encouraged people take public transportation by reducing the cost and increasing the public transport connection and numbers of buses and trains, transportation pressure is still one of the biggest issues in China. I believe transportation management is a challenge to Chinese Government; it seems extremely complex in China for economic, social, cultural reasons.

  23. In my community of Xi’an high-tech and industrial zoon in Shaanxi province of China, there are less green space, poor utility supply for daily using, less facilities and narrow road in the past 15 years. One of the most significant features is less green space in my community which cause this is an industrial area.
    However, this feature has been change during the last 15 years until now, the regional council built a mass of green space specially one biggest green belt which is the park of the Tang Dynasty’s city wall relics. This green belt is functional as a great public open space for the adjacent residents. It also can pure the air quality to improve the environment, control the noise from the private vehicle.
    Now this green belt is the one of the most popular park which people choose to take a walk in the leisure time. The residents are really glad to support the regional council to maintain and manage this green space. It improved the environmental quality for the adjacent people, and it is more sustainable for the development of my community.

    ye kang

  24. I have recently moved to Pinehill, which is a relatively latest suburb in Auckland region. Pinehill is a mid to high class living suburb with very close proximity to the Albany Mall. The surrounding developments are mainly low density residential, with limited number of retail shops / cafes / gas stations. The blocks are designed typically for residential; many of cul-de-sacs are in the area. The road system is respectively designed for residential use as well, which are relatively narrow around the blocks. There are few numbers of reserved lands distributed evenly around where I live. To compare with the older suburb Sunnynook that I have lived, the green spaces are much larger reserved and the houses are less intensified. The reduction on green spaces is considerably due to the intensification of land, which may lead to influences on people’s lifestyle.

    Xiaoyu Shi

  25. There is a noticeable change in the faces of Epsom in recent years with many education-aware Asians making the area their home. Epsom was settled mainly around the turn of the century. There were many villas of 1900-1920s vintage as well as 1920s and 1930s bungalows. They were usually on large sections. However, many of the suburb’s decades-old family names have moved on, finding the upkeep of their grounds costly and time-consuming. Many of their homesteads have been flattened and replaced with modern townhouses, mostly of brick and tile or plaster construction. Infill housing constructed over the past decade also includes small units which complete the spectrum of properties. Education is a major driver of demand and high prices of the housing in Epsom. Currently, a house in the grammar zone will command a premium of more than $100,000 compared to an identical house outside the zone.

    Yuqing Zhou
    1560341 yzho146

  26. I spend a lot of time in Pauanui, a small beach township on the Coromandel Peninsula. Pauanui has an airstrip which is located in the middle of the township, with beach houses lining either side of it, and a skate park at one end. Because Pauanui only has a small permanent population of 741 and its airstrip is only used by recreational light-aircraft pilots the quality and location of this airstrip would have been acceptable in the past. However, today Pauaui has an estimated summer holiday maker population of over 15,000 and its airstrip is becoming increasingly busy with private and commercial aircrafts. With beach houses on either side of this 850 x 60m airstrip, voluminous children playing in and around the skate-park and no gate system, safety issues are of concern today.
    Just recently a plane with 10 passengers aboard plunged through the safety rail… article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10761107

    Sophie Elwood