Christchurch Rising – Landscape Driven City

Following on from the 2015 X-Section article Reimagining a City: 21st Century Landscape Architecture and the paper given by Mike Thomas at the 2015 6th Liveable Cities Conference titled Reimagining Christchurch City’s Post-Quake Public Realm: The Influence of 21st Century Landscape Architecture on the Rebuild, Mike posited that it is the work of landscape architects that will most consistently influence the appearance and social and economic success of Christchurch’s new post-quake public realm in the rebuild.  The following is a brief update on progress.

Mike Thomas

Christchurch is unique in New Zealand. Following the 2011 earthquake, it has started over. 70% of CBD buildings have needed demolition, services under the street have needed reconstruction and the city is now in a slow-but-steady state of rebuild.

A positive outlook of a city ‘beginning again’ has been the opportunity for the government to engage with the city and put in place an infrastructure rebuild using principles defined by its people. Cantabrians have asked for a green, walking, cycling city with public transport.

City planning has zoned the CBD into ‘Frames’ according to the activity of the district (e.g. innovation, health). A focus has been applied to developing the public realm and streetscape and so landscape architecture is playing a dominant role in shaping the character of the city centre – an evolutionary shift not a wholesale changeover.

This South Frame project consists of 20,000m2 of mid-block lanes and plazas across seven city blocks on major arterial routes in the city (Tuam/St Asaph and Madras/Antigua Streets). It’s part of a wider ‘Accessible City’ project which consists of 75,000 m2 of streetscapes containing 250 new street trees and 4,000m2 of rain gardens,   developed by a consortium of Jasmax, AECOM and LandLAB. South Frame’s construction began in 2016 and is now approximately 20% complete with work now proceeding at full pace.

A 12 metre-wide, 700 metre long, heavily planted Greenway collects, slows and treats storm water runoff with almost 3,000m2 of rain gardens. Designed as a setting for a creative new mixed-use precinct, connecting the Innovation and Health Precincts, the Greenway is a canvas for cultural expression in partnership with Ngāi Tahu; the local Māori tribe. A theme of this greenway is a “Story of Stone”, which features backlit pounamu (Jade/greenstone) pavement inlays, basalt laneways and boulders. The Greenway will be a venue for social activation and a safe movement corridor, particularly attractive to inner-city living and working.

The layout for the Greenway owes much to Canterbury’s beautiful braided rivers, pixelated to align with urban geometry. Local tree species, Kahikatea and totara, will rise above the buildings as future sentinels to help navigate the city centre. Ethno-botanical plantings with historical value to Ngāi Tahu will be planted, with identification tags.

Separated cycle-lanes and shared surfaces will enable safe cycling through the city, and connect to a regional cycleway network, the Peloton. Architecturally iconic Super Stops (for buses) are being fabricated, ready to play their part in a three-fold increase (by 2041) of public transport movements.

Construction of these projects is in full swing with a significant portion built by 2018.

By Mike Thomas, Principal, Jasmax 

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Can Architecture and Smart Design Help Prevent Terrorism?

London, Paris, Stockholm, Brussels, Manchester and Nice – the list of cities hit by terrorism continues to grow by the month. While this has seen volumes of page space devoted to try and explain the reasons behind the carnage, scant attention has been given to the use of urban design as an anti-terror weapon. But what if we could use smart design and architectural innovation to help prevent this scourge? Could better urban design help in the fight against global terror?

The concept of attenuating public space to improve public safety is nothing new. Ever since ‘The Troubles’ of the 1970s and 80s, the UK has changed and redesigned parts of Belfast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland a bid to better cope with future IRA attacks.

As for the US, since September 11, 2001, America’s architects have been on a steep learning curve on how to balance between designing for aesthetics and designing for public safety.

Today this scenario has more resonance considering that since 2007, more people than ever in human history are residing in urban centres as opposed to rural ones. By 2050, it has been estimated that up to 75 percent of the global population will be classified as being urban.

This massive increase in urban habitation invariably means an increase in high-density living. The irony being of course, when it comes to public safety and social cohesion, high-rise and high-density structures rarely make the list of final designs.

can architecture and design prevent terrorism?
Photo: article provided

Minimalistic public safety designs 101

In New York City, one popular public safety feature has been the addition of bollards to many public spaces. But these were not just any old bollards – in the city’s famed financial district, these bespoke bollards are designed to be also used as street furniture and aesthetic enhancements.

However, while it’s easier to redesign (or re-engineer) a relatively simple item like a bollard – entire buildings, and for that matter, whole neighbourhoods, are a very different proposition.

Considering the need for safety usually trumps most other human needs, perhaps it’s time to consider combining the need for beauty with the need for safety especially in an era that bears the burden of the “ugliness of terrorism”.

At the same time, it should not be all bland function over beauty and form. Last year, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Ruth Reed, highlighted RIBA’s ‘counter-terrorism design guidelines’ and noted that it was “important to remember that we are an open and inclusive society”. In terms of architectural design, she claims we shouldn’t be “driven by security measures”.

This article was originally published by Architecture and Design.

Click here to read the entire article.

New Design Detail Revealed For Gold Coast Integrated Resort

The newly released details include the following attractions:

  • 9,200m2 waterfront square
  • Sub-tropical canopy, skywalk and gardens
  • Waterfront amphitheater
  • Signature ballroom
  • Broadwater coves for fishing, swimming and casual recreation
  • Marina, public boat and jet ski moorings
  • Medi-spa and health and day spa
  • Waterfalls
  • All ages leisure attraction
  • Jetties and piers
  • Terrace and rooftop gardens
  • Boutique shopping arcades
  • Waterfront restaurants
  • Waterfront markets
  • Art on the Broadwater
  • Restaurants, bars and nightclubs
  • Rooftop park with outdoor cinema.

Gold Coast Integrated Resort architect Michael Rayner, of Queensland-based Blight Rayner Architecture, said the design had to reflect the Gold Coast community’s values and diversity to ensure it appealed to locals and tourists alike.

“We were able to achieve this scale of public offerings by increasing height; this approach reduces the building footprint and opens up more public space for locals and visitors to enjoy,” Mr Rayner said.

“The existing three storey height limit was appropriate for its time but can only result in privatised resorts with limited public accessibility such as already exists on The Spit.

“The towers we have designed are well-dispersed on the near six hectare site, creating maximum public realm and opening up new and accessible areas never before available to Gold Coast residents or visitors,” he said.

Mr Rayner said that those who are concerned about the resort’s impact on scenery can rest assured that that considerable work has gone into the design to ensure community views on height are respected and responded to in the design.

Originally published by The Urban Developer, continue reading here.

Kangaroo Point ‘Buildings That Breathe’ To Drive Brisbane As New World City: CEO

Two stunning 18-storey ‘self breathing’ residential towers have been proposed at 23- 31 Ferry Street and 16- 30 Prospect Street Kangaroo Point across 3048sqm, metres from the Story Bridge.

102 residential units have been proposed across the two 18 level buildings, including 40 two-bedroom and 62 three-bedroom apartments – representing the majority at 59 per cent of the unit mix.

Four penthouse apartments – each with their own rooftop pool – are also included.

According to application documents, the majority of the proposed apartments are naturally ventilated – including communal spaces – with zero single aspect south-facing apartment proposed. The development will feature a private landscaped roof garden, gymnasium, pool, restaurants, cafes and resident lounge.

The documents state that the landscaping proposed – capable of efficient and effective maintenance – will future-proof landscaping.

kpa

Founder and CEO Tony Leung of A+ Design Group – leader of the team behind the project – said the architecture of the Kangaroo Point development would contribute to Brisbane presenting itself as a ‘New World City’.

“The team at a+  share the Mayor’s vision for Brisbane to become Australia’s New World City. Early on, we identified that this New World City needs aspirational architecture, architecture that not only embodies the tropical climate of South East Queensland and represents a sense of place but also, responds  to its site and provides an appropriate response to the evolution of the Brisbane Skyline.  So that was a key driver and starting point for the concept. We wanted the articulation of the façade to be playful, so we looked into examples of treehouse architecture.  Out of this process, we proposed a series of platforms set amongst the branches and canopies of greenery which forms a softer, more gentle response and  juxtaposition to the glass and steel city across the river.”

Originally Published by The Urban Developer, continue reading here.

Virtual Reality Tool Helps Architects Create Dementia-Friendly Spaces

A virtual reality device has been launched that will help architects and designers create dementia-friendly buildings and spaces by mimicking the visual impairments experienced by dementia patients.

The invention is a market first for architectural design and will be known as Virtual Reality Empathy Platform (VR-EP). It stems from the knowledge that people with dementia can see things very differently, with objects often appearing dimmer and less colourful than they really are which can lead to fright and confusion.

The appearance of a room without and with the Virtual Reality Empathy Platform headset, for a dementia sufferer.
The appearance of a room without and with the Virtual Reality Empathy Platform headset, for a dementia sufferer.

The technology can be used in the design of new buildings such as care homes, hospitals or sheltered housing, and also has the potential to assess existing buildings and environments. Dementia-friendly design can significantly improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.

Originally Published by The Urban Developer, continue reading here.