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New Awards Mark Coming of Age of Urban Design

New Awards Mark Coming of Age
of New Zealand Urban Design

Two Auckland projects have taken the top awards in the inaugural New Zealand Urban Design Awards, a new biennial programme that acknowledges the importance of high quality urban environments.

The Jellicoe Precinct at Wynyard Quarter is the winner in the Built Projects category, and the Auckland City Centre Masterplan 2012-13 is the winner in the second Urban Design Awards category, Envisaging Projects.

Three entries into the Built Projects category were Highly Commended – Wellington Waterfront, Iron Bank, on Auckland’s Karangahape Road, and the Talbot Park Renewal Project, in the east Auckland suburb of Glen Innes.

In the Envisaging Projects side of the Awards, the Blueprint for Christchurch was Highly Commended.

At the Awards evening in Auckland on 8 November, the convenor of the Awards jury, the former New South Wales Government Architect, Peter Mould, said task of judging in a competition with a large number of diverse entries, many of them outstanding, was difficult.

“There were many fine architectural, landscape and planning projects, but the jury was focused on a broader dimension,” Mould said. “We looked for projects which established or reinforced urban initiatives and executed them with demonstrable design excellence.”

“Urban design is concerned not so much with individual buildings, but with the building of a city. It’s about place making, and it’s also about the public realm.”

Mould said that if a trend emerged from the first Urban Design Awards “it was the importance of upfront investment in the public domain, whether by a public authority or private developer. Such investment sets the agenda for excellence in the future.”

Mould said Waterfront Auckland’s Jellicoe Precinct, stage one of the development of Wynyard Quarter, was an exemplary case of agenda-setting urban design for which consultants Architectus and Taylor Cullity Leathlean and Wraight + Associates deserved congratulation.

In its Award citation, the jury said the primary success of Jellicoe Precinct is “the establishment of the street pattern and public spaces to give order and texture to the development to come”.

“The creation of two new waterfront spaces, Karanga Plaza and Silo Park, linked by the east-west axis of Jellicoe Street, establishes a suite of spaces with different functions and moods” and which provide a strong framework for future development.

While the work at Wynyard Quarter is relatively recent, Wellington Waterfront Limited, the jury said, “has over many years moved to progressively create a publically accessible waterfront over a huge area”.

As a result of this sustained effort, the jury said, the Capital’s waterfront “has been embraced by the community and enjoys high levels of activity”.

Iron Bank, RTA Studio’s container-like stacking of steel-clad forms on Auckland’s K’ Road, has a different scale but still performs an urban design function, the jury said.

“This is a high-quality project inserted into a unique and historic area which is currently in a state of renewal after a long period of neglect.”

“It is a brave development with a strong urban and architectural agenda, and is potentially a catalyst for change in this areas and a model for medium-sized development.”

At Talbot Park in Glen Innes, the jury was impressed by the “quality and diversity of medium density housing types designed to suit different household compositions.”

The social housing project, planned by Boffa Miskell for a client partnership of Housing New Zealand, Auckland City Council and local residents, demonstrates, the jury said, “how a well-designed community can at the same time improve amenity and increase density”.

The winner of the Envisaging Projects category, the Auckland City Centre Masterplan 2012-13 produced by Auckland Council’s Built Environment Unit and City Transformation, was praised for “addressing the complex development, infrastructure and public realm issues at play in Auckland’s central areas in a new and innovative way”.

“A particular strength of the plan”, the jury said, “lies in the way it has re-imagined how the streets and public spaces in the central area could look and feel if there is a concerted effort to shift towards creating public spaces that will attract people rather than cars”.

The Blueprint Plan for Christchurch, produced to a tight timeframe by a consortium led by Boffa Miskell and including Shepaprd + Rout Architects, Warren and Mahoney Architects, Populous, Woods Bagot and RCP, was Highly Commended in the Envisaging Projects category.

The Plan, the jury said, “represents an innovative and detailed response to the complex set of issues raised by these unique circumstances”. The Blueprint’s compression and containment of the CBD retail area is “a bold move” and “overall the Plan provides the potential for high quality urban design outcomes and reflects a realistic response to rehabilitating the city”.

The New Zealand Urban Design Awards are supported by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, the Urban Design Forum, the New Zealand Planning Institute, the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects and the Property Council of New Zealand.

Joining Peter Mould on the Awards jury were planning consultant David Mead, landscape architect Sally Peake, deputy head of the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning, Lee Beattie, and property developer Patrick Fontein.


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