Friday, May 23, 2014

Rethinking Auckland's QE Square

Auckland Council have seen "opportunity" in Queen Elizabeth Square for downtown developers and for a hefty capital sum. There has been urban design criticism of the square - forlorn - neglected - wind swept - some say. This behaviour is what goes with "de-territorialisation". It's a well known process where public attachment and attraction to land is gently undermined, so that no-one really cares when it's gone. Or maybe until it's gone - but by then it's too late.

However there are always a few canaries in Auckland's coalmine of development. Which is a good thing. Auckland needs whistle blowers to prevent "de-territorialisation" of public space, and to prevent it being "re-territorialised" as private land.

I wrote a few days ago in a posting entitled "Love QE Square". I gave it that name because I wanted to do more than simply "save" QE Square. It needs love, from the public, from people who use it,  from those who see other opportunities for it, and from Council. Especially now that Auckland Council is getting close to digging it up to make way for the first section of the Central Rail Corridor tunnel, and now that Precinct Properties is getting ready to develop its downtown buildings and land.

Hence these images below, from a Sketchup model I threw together, as part of a campaign to "love", "own", and "re-territorialise" Queen Elizabeth Square. Transform it into Auckland's premier waterfront civic square..... click to enlarge...










The main thing that I've taken away is the bus interchange and through road which bisected the square. The interchange included a glass covered canopy above bus-shelters which also served as a sheltered walkway for people accessing ferry services from downtown. This is gone from my renderings because Auckland Council's plans are to re-locate the QE Square bus interchange. This will be done by expanding the Britomart bus interchange (behind the heritage CPO building which functions as the railway station), constructing a new facility at the bottom of Lower Albert Street, and constructing an interchange on Fanshawe Street across that road from the Eastern corner of Victoria Park.

That is what presents a huge opportunity for opening up and rethinking QE Square.

There will still be a need to provide for shelter from the elements: sun, wind and rain. Let's see some options for this from Council. If QE Square has to be dug up then perhaps we can construct an underpass pedestrian walkway - following the examples of downtown Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and line the passageway with well-lit boutique shops and takeaways. This walkway can also connect to ferries and the railway station. On the many good days pedestrians can choose to walk on QE Square - rather than take the underpass.

This is to get the creative juices flowing a bit. What Auckland sorely needs now is a joined up vision for the CBD waterfront - what we're planning on doing down there, and what we're not doing down there. Big picture stuff which gives at least as much emphasis to the public realm as it does to providing for urban economic development.

This vision needs to look forward 30 years and should include: the CRL (built - above and below ground); Downtown redeveloped; Queens Wharf developed; Quay Street pedestrianised; Custom Street reshaped; Light rail from Wynyard Quarter inter-connecting with the new bus stations and running up Queen Street; and expanded ferry services. Broad brush stuff. Detail can come later.

And it needs to be done with public engagement and participation.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Joel, is this not a case of taking buses away from QEII and ramming them into the back lanes of Britomart?
If you think Lower Queen St is undesirable with buses, how would the smaller and more constrained streets feel?

Don't forget that around 50% of all people visiting the CBD each day come by bus, do you really want to push them away from where they are going, to make it less comfortable, less convenient, harder to transfer between, bus, train and ferry?

Who exactly is going to use this expansive square if you make the bus passengers go somewhere else?

Needs more thought around the realities of bus operations downtown, saying "make the buses go away" won't achieve much.

Lawrence C said...

Joel, I agree with Anonymous: the present bus station is in the very best place, being absolutely adjacent to both railway station and ferry. From a functional standpoint it should stay where it is. That said, I agree it is a windy and rather unattractive space. Your images look good! But I still like Kieran R's idea of many years ago, which was to demolish all the tower blocks as far as Albert Street, and have a central square of trees and grass, bounded by the grand old buildings of the Post Office and Custom House. Impossible dream, of course, but a very appealing one.

Anonymous said...

Joel, I don't understand your choice of ground covering? Is this a representation of something?
-Emily

Joel Cayford said...

Good question about ground cover. In fact I got the idea from Waterfront Auckland's treatment of the pedestrianised area of Te Whero Island which links the bridge from Wynyard Quarter to Quay Street. If you look at that area using GIS photos you will see the stripes and colours. There are all sorts of ways of doing it. I wanted to emphasise the pedestrian feel - and to enable me to take the pattern across Quay Street and onto Queens Wharf - which you can see happening in the later posting I did which include trams through QE Square. What sort of paving/cover would you prefer?

BRIAN AKL said...

Well this is not what they going to do, it won't look like the waterfront! it will only be stone brick covering the ground and the busses are relocated to make way for the city rail link.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rethinking Auckland's QE Square

Auckland Council have seen "opportunity" in Queen Elizabeth Square for downtown developers and for a hefty capital sum. There has been urban design criticism of the square - forlorn - neglected - wind swept - some say. This behaviour is what goes with "de-territorialisation". It's a well known process where public attachment and attraction to land is gently undermined, so that no-one really cares when it's gone. Or maybe until it's gone - but by then it's too late.

However there are always a few canaries in Auckland's coalmine of development. Which is a good thing. Auckland needs whistle blowers to prevent "de-territorialisation" of public space, and to prevent it being "re-territorialised" as private land.

I wrote a few days ago in a posting entitled "Love QE Square". I gave it that name because I wanted to do more than simply "save" QE Square. It needs love, from the public, from people who use it,  from those who see other opportunities for it, and from Council. Especially now that Auckland Council is getting close to digging it up to make way for the first section of the Central Rail Corridor tunnel, and now that Precinct Properties is getting ready to develop its downtown buildings and land.

Hence these images below, from a Sketchup model I threw together, as part of a campaign to "love", "own", and "re-territorialise" Queen Elizabeth Square. Transform it into Auckland's premier waterfront civic square..... click to enlarge...










The main thing that I've taken away is the bus interchange and through road which bisected the square. The interchange included a glass covered canopy above bus-shelters which also served as a sheltered walkway for people accessing ferry services from downtown. This is gone from my renderings because Auckland Council's plans are to re-locate the QE Square bus interchange. This will be done by expanding the Britomart bus interchange (behind the heritage CPO building which functions as the railway station), constructing a new facility at the bottom of Lower Albert Street, and constructing an interchange on Fanshawe Street across that road from the Eastern corner of Victoria Park.

That is what presents a huge opportunity for opening up and rethinking QE Square.

There will still be a need to provide for shelter from the elements: sun, wind and rain. Let's see some options for this from Council. If QE Square has to be dug up then perhaps we can construct an underpass pedestrian walkway - following the examples of downtown Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and line the passageway with well-lit boutique shops and takeaways. This walkway can also connect to ferries and the railway station. On the many good days pedestrians can choose to walk on QE Square - rather than take the underpass.

This is to get the creative juices flowing a bit. What Auckland sorely needs now is a joined up vision for the CBD waterfront - what we're planning on doing down there, and what we're not doing down there. Big picture stuff which gives at least as much emphasis to the public realm as it does to providing for urban economic development.

This vision needs to look forward 30 years and should include: the CRL (built - above and below ground); Downtown redeveloped; Queens Wharf developed; Quay Street pedestrianised; Custom Street reshaped; Light rail from Wynyard Quarter inter-connecting with the new bus stations and running up Queen Street; and expanded ferry services. Broad brush stuff. Detail can come later.

And it needs to be done with public engagement and participation.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Joel, is this not a case of taking buses away from QEII and ramming them into the back lanes of Britomart?
If you think Lower Queen St is undesirable with buses, how would the smaller and more constrained streets feel?

Don't forget that around 50% of all people visiting the CBD each day come by bus, do you really want to push them away from where they are going, to make it less comfortable, less convenient, harder to transfer between, bus, train and ferry?

Who exactly is going to use this expansive square if you make the bus passengers go somewhere else?

Needs more thought around the realities of bus operations downtown, saying "make the buses go away" won't achieve much.

Lawrence C said...

Joel, I agree with Anonymous: the present bus station is in the very best place, being absolutely adjacent to both railway station and ferry. From a functional standpoint it should stay where it is. That said, I agree it is a windy and rather unattractive space. Your images look good! But I still like Kieran R's idea of many years ago, which was to demolish all the tower blocks as far as Albert Street, and have a central square of trees and grass, bounded by the grand old buildings of the Post Office and Custom House. Impossible dream, of course, but a very appealing one.

Anonymous said...

Joel, I don't understand your choice of ground covering? Is this a representation of something?
-Emily

Joel Cayford said...

Good question about ground cover. In fact I got the idea from Waterfront Auckland's treatment of the pedestrianised area of Te Whero Island which links the bridge from Wynyard Quarter to Quay Street. If you look at that area using GIS photos you will see the stripes and colours. There are all sorts of ways of doing it. I wanted to emphasise the pedestrian feel - and to enable me to take the pattern across Quay Street and onto Queens Wharf - which you can see happening in the later posting I did which include trams through QE Square. What sort of paving/cover would you prefer?

BRIAN AKL said...

Well this is not what they going to do, it won't look like the waterfront! it will only be stone brick covering the ground and the busses are relocated to make way for the city rail link.