Fresh From The Field — Wynyard Quarter – Transitional Spaces – By Fresh Concept
Design Assembly loves to profile the breadth and depth of design practice in Aotearoa. For September, in line with the Spring Conversations events, we’re putting a highlight on Placemaking & Design.
Fresh Concept take us through their recent work and design process for creating transitional spaces at Wynyard Quarter.
Since early 2022 we have been working with Eke Panuku Development Auckland and their Mana Whenua Forum to encourage members of the public to engage with, experience, and enjoy the newly opened Base Spaces down behind Silo Park. This space had previously been cleared and utilised for AC36 (America’s Cup) held in 2020.
Our brief was two-fold; while our short-term aim is to encourage visitors to the space through the use of tactical and temporary infrastructure, we are also testing, trialling, and monitoring what works in these spaces with the long-term goal of using our learnings to inform the development of the proposed future headland park precinct.
The Design Response
In order to understand the opportunities and challenges of working in this unique water’s edge space, our first steps were to understand the needs of the existing users and primary stakeholders in the space. We did this through:
- Monitoring the existing uses of the space;
- Understanding Mana Whenua forum wants; and
- Understanding client wants.
Once we had this information, we then used it to inform our programming of the space. Using a tactical approach to the development of the interventions, our next steps were to:
- Deliver interventions based on stakeholder input;
- Monitor the use and relative success of these interventions; and
- Based on the data, reformat the interventions to improve the vibrancy and function of the space in an interactive manner.
Through our initial monitoring process, we noted that the space had become popular with skaters, roller skaters, and cyclists during the Covid lockdowns, due to its wide open space and flat surface. We sought to strengthen those uses both through the installation of structures which supported these groups, and by keeping large areas of space free for active modes. The ongoing patronage of the skate ramps and cycle courses is testament to the benefits of taking this approach.
This approach has allowed us to foster relationships with the existing communities using the space, and we have had success in being able to engage certain groups to help develop the space alongside us. We worked with a local skate group, East Skate Club, to design and fabricate a skate kit which has been a welcome addition to the space. As well as develop and install the kit, they have also assisted with periodically rearranging the kit, providing communication to their community about the kit, and have activated it through skate competitions.
For procuring and displaying creative content in the space, we co-developed an EOI (expressions of interest) process, piloted by mana whenua through the mana whenua forum, and produced a suite of art display infrastructure, such as relocatable display panels and flags, to display that content.
The resulting infrastructure and artistic content has helped to establish a vibrant and colourful atmosphere which has encouraged people to visit and dwell in the space. Through the development and implementation of the EOI process, we have also brought mana whenua into the kōrero and have supported and fostered connections with local artists.
Per our client brief to encourage new users, we have also invited new communities into the space through the fit-out of onsite shipping containers, including a mirrored dance container wharau kanikani, storytelling container wharau kōrero, and a gym container (currently in development).
Throughout the whole process, all of our tactical interventions have been flexible, adaptable, and relocatable, which has enabled us to rearrange the site and its components, and has allowed us to monitor how these changes affect behaviour and adjust and improve the layout of the site in an iterative manner. We consider that this step is essential not only to the success of the project to date, but will also provide key evidence for informing the development and programming of the future headland park.
The Design Team
Simon van Praag – Director
John Sutton – Managing Director
Sam Nicoll – Program Lead
Isabel Rust – Senior Designer
The Client Team
Eke Panuku Development Auckland
East Skate Club