Development in Wynyard Central in Auckland’s waterfront allows buildings of up to 28 storeys. The Council’s objective to create a “vibrant neighbourhood” here could be compromised by a series of tall buildings that have the potential to deny spatial intimacy at the ground plane.
Wynyard Central vibrancy is a reflection of the number of people walking in public space and the time they spend in that space. Activation of the public realm is an activity response to the “functional” environment and to the “physical” environment.
So, whilst the initial activation brief was heavily focused around a “mix of ground floor activities” it was clear that the majority of Wynyard Central’s streets could not be activated by retail, given the relatively small size of existing and future on-site markets.
Defining the extent of retail capacity
The demand for functionally (retail) active edge was estimated at 280 linear metres from a total linear edge of 2.6 kilometres in Wynyard Central. The balance of ground floor activity will therefore be either office or residential. Functional” activation contributing to a “vibrant neighbourhood” is therefore limited in its influence and determining the “physical” environment becomes relatively more important.
Motivations to walk are affected by attraction or pulling power of the walk-to destination and by physical features or building elements that influence the quality of the built environment and therefore the visual richness of the walk.
The spatial brief
In order to achieve Waterfront Auckland’s Vision and objectives, buildings in Wynyard Central are proposed to be brought to ground in a manner that supports the visual perspective of the pedestrian.
This more intimate pedestrian perspective requires a “plane transition” so that the lower levels of each building begin to engage with the street and become buildings “common in conversation” (as shown in the image). This transition is proposed at level three of all buildings.
At this point the use of dominant vertical proportions and higher level of detail in the composition of the building facade will assist to render the buildings as more pedestrian friendly.
Panuku Development Auckland is using this approach to manage the delivery of its objectives in Wynyard Central.
By Michael Cullen, Principal of Urbacity, Sydney
Michael attended the 2015 International Urban Design Conference.