New shared space crowns fortnight of city improvements
New shared space crowns fortnight of city centre improvements
The transformation of O’Connell Street into Auckland’s newest shared space will be officially launched this Friday, crowning a series of major improvements in the city centre. These include:
- Three new connected cycleways, spanning 2.7km
- The unveiling of Upper Khartoum Place, which opens up views of the award-winning Auckland Art Gallery
- The launch of the Downtown Framework, which sets out an extensive and ambitious programme of work for Auckland’s downtown.
In the coming months, further spaces will be launched at Federal Street and Bledisloe Lane.
O’Connell Street’s $2.25million revamp was designed by Auckland Council, funded by the City Centre targeted rate and the construction was managed by Auckland Transport.
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says “The transformation continues to create a bustling, lively and exciting city to live in and visit.”
Envisaged in the City Centre Masterplan (2012), O’Connell Street’s transformation to a shared space was a result of public consultation. Shared spaces are pedestrian-friendly areas that provide space for a wide mix of public and commercial activity such as street dining, events and walking while allowing access for vehicles.
Chris Upton, owner of O’Connell Street Bistro is excited at the prospect of being able to move dining outside for the first time.
“The upgrade has been a 100 per cent success and has given pedestrians as well as businesses a fantastic, open space.”
The upgrade has also re-established O’Connell Street as an important part of the city centre 'laneway' circuit - a walking route connecting a sequence of public squares and gathering spaces from Aotea Square to the waterfront.
Shale Chambers, Chambers Chair of the Waitemata Local Board says, “O’Connell Street is a great example of how we can open up our city centre providing safe spaces for pedestrians while keeping the historical character intact, something our communities feel strong about.”
It boasts improved lighting, paving and street furniture as well as a special textured stone paving design which will assist blind and partially sighted people to navigate the street.
Ludo Campbell-Reid, Auckland Council’s Design Champion says the end result is beautiful and will leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.
“The odd thing is that O’Connell Street was always beautiful but its personality was hidden behind a row of parked cars which was not contributing to the vibrancy of the street. By simplifying the materials, removing cars and clutter, the heritage buildings have been revealed.
“The outstanding result is better because of the close working relationship with local businesses that have inputted into the design throughout the process. This space will become one of the great little streets of Auckland, and will benefit Auckland for many years,” he said.
Other features of the street include new stone seats containing information on the street’s heritage. There are also special pavers marking the line of the original eastern side where construction teams discovered the foundations of the original properties during the upgrade.