Restart the Heart: Urban Surgery to Save City Life

Mr Dave Charnley, Urban Designer at Palmerston North City Council will be joining us at the 2017 International Urban Design Conference to discuss “Restart the heart: Urban surgery to save city life”


The Square or Te Marae O Hine (the courtyard of the daughter of peace) in Palmerston North, NZ (Pop 85,000) is a 17 ha open space physically located at the heart of the city, closely held in the hearts and minds of residents and those who visit.

David Charnley

Central to early city life, the Square was where visitors arrived by train, commerce occurred and public events were held. As the city grew and transportation and retail models changed a weakening of the city heart occurred that by the early 2000’s little city life within the Square remained.

Key causes:

-Increased vehicle ownership
-Relocation of rail line to edge of the city
-City sprawl
-Large format retailing
-High concealment, difficult egress and poor quality of assets
-Space claim by groups – sense of fear and criminal activity


In 2004 Palmerston North City Council set about a series of catalytic design and strategy steps in an attempt to reclaim The Square, restart the city heart, and allow visible public life to once again flourish.

Key moves:

-City Heart Project – The Square 2004
Applied CPTED principles as key redevelopment driver

Urban Design Strategy 2010

8 Key initiatives to lift the quality of urban design across the city, in particular:
(a) Apply a centres based approach to city development
(b) Embed urban design criteria into the District Plan, in particular in the Business Zone
(c) ‘Placemaking’ encourage community led solutions to public realm occupation


-Improved sight lines, access and movement
-Increased high quality, usable space for people
-A safe destination a massive reduction in crime
-Increased official city events and place activation
-Increased visible public life
-Community led events and activation
-Launch of ‘Palmy Unleashed’ with design power shifting to community groups and PNCC now providing the wrap around support to make things happen
-Outside perception of city changing

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017. This year there are optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Find out more here.


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 

Geyser wins at NZ architecture awards

The Fifth Estate 4th September 2013

Auckland’s Geyser building, New Zealand’s first 6 Star Green Star office-design rated building has won two categories at the 2013 New Zealand Architecture Awards.

Geyser, in Parnell, took out the commercial and sustainable design categories. The three-storey commercial building, a series of five sub-buildings with offices and retail space, was designed by Pattersons and is owned by Samson Corporation.

Architect Andrew Patterson said Geyser filled “the missing piece in sustainability”, which was about “quality, beauty and permanence”.

The Geyser Building
The Geyser Building

Samson general manager Marco Creemers said Geyser was not only a stunning building to look at but also “a very quiet and fresh environment to work in”.

“It gives you a great sense of pride to know you’re using less energy – no air-conditioning, a car stacking system and well thought-out lighting. You’re also saving water with rain harvesting, and reducing onsite waste with the Hungry Bin systems.”

Features include a 165-car stacking machine and a system of atriums with pedestrian linkages to promote networking and a sense of community.

Another is state-of-the-art eco-technology that enables the building to heat itself by trapping warm air between its walls in the winter, while in summer the entire outer skin opens electronically for full ventilation.

Mr Creemers said benefits were:

  • Using nearly a third less energy
  • Using half the amount of artificial lighting and water
  • Breathing 100 per cent fresh air (compared with 25 per cent in airconditioned offices)
  • Using a rainwater harvesting system to store and supply water to the toilets and irrigation system
  • Utilising showers, lockers and cycle parks to encourage active transport, as well as being close to major public transport hubs.

Clicker there to go read the original article on THE FIFTH ESTATE