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Students give the low down on low impact design

Students give the low down on low impact design

Students have been rewarded for their innovative ideas on how to improve the quality of rainwater run-off from a new housing development.

They are among the winners announced in the annual Low Impact Design Competition sponsored by the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and Housing New Zealand.

Final-year and post-graduate engineering and urban design students at the University of Auckland were given the chance to consider how they would design a piece of land in Hobsonville being developed by the Hobsonville Land Company.

The competition is now in its fourth year. This year’s winning team of a $1500 first prize is Christian Gamst, Cody Makelow, Daniel Thomas, Javier Barcelo and Louise Goodwin. Teams in second and third place also received a cash prize.

The ARC supports incorporating low impact design solutions in new housing developments.

“Low impact design solutions improve the way that rainwater run-off from hard surfaces is processed before it heads out to sea,” says Councillor Dianne Glenn, Chair of the ARC’s Environmental Management Committee.

Low impact design solutions can be incorporated into the whole site design from the get-go and can include minimising site disturbances that create sediment, reducing the use of impervious surfaces, creating natural areas and clustering development, and constructing methods to filter stormwater.

“Solutions like permeable paving and vegetation strips, or swales, filter the water of contaminants like zinc and copper, and decrease the amount of water and sediment running into harbours and estuaries. This is a big plus for the health of our harbours and their marine life,” she said.

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Competition judge and Faculty of Engineering Senior Lecturer, Dr Elisabeth Fassman, was enthusiastic about the students’ use of low impact design features.

“It was good to see students pushing the boundaries of minimum compliance as well as thinking about the development as a living space. Cycle lanes, meeting places, green spaces and outlooks were all incorporated,” she said.

Katja Leitz from the Hobsonville Land Company was also impressed with the results. She says the company – also a supporter of low impact design solutions – would follow up on some of the students’ suggestions.

ENDS

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