The changing face of Auckland’s CBD
A proposal to close one of Auckland’s main thoroughfares to traffic embodies ambitious plans for the city.
Auckland Council design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid says Victoria St will be turned into a ‘‘linear park’’, stretching from east to west across the CBD, if city planners have their way.
It is one of a string of projects aimed at transforming Auckland from a city of cars to a modern centre designed around the movements of people.
A much grander but largely hidden project, the long awaited City Rail Link, was putting Victoria Street’s upgrade on hold ‘‘much to my annoyance’’, Campbell-Reid said.
However, there was preparation work that could be done now, particularly underground, he said.
Stretching from Albert Park in the east to Victoria Park in the west, the long strip of garden will provide badly-needed green space in the downtown area.
About $16 billion will be spent on public and private projects in Auckland’s CBD over the next 10 years, including $2.4b on the CRL.
He says the CBD is undergoing a metamorphosis.
Twenty-five years ago just 1900 people lived there. Today there are about 40,000.
‘‘The way we move about our city will be totally turned upon its head - people will cycle, walk, come by ferry, share cars, get on trams.
‘‘In the old days transport engineers were the bane of my life, because their focus wasn’t on the people. Now it’s about urban design [leading] the vision.’’
Even simple moves like removing left-hand turns slowed cars down and created more space for people and landscaping, he said.
Several one-way, shared space CBD streets now allow cyclists to pedal both ways too.
‘‘Do that a hundred times over the city and you start to create a place where people are the customer.’’
Campbell-Reid has a team of four working on what he calls ‘‘urban acupuncture’’ - pop up installations around the town that aim to subtly change attitudes about what a city is.
A recent example is Piano Steps at the main entrance to the Aotea Centre, as a visitor walks up the stairs a note plays.
These initiatives are funded out of the annual $20m targeted rate city centre businesses pay.
Victoria St could be turned into a linear park stretching east to west across the CBD.