Regenerative Placemaking in Auckland

We’ve written about regenerative cities before; in this article at Future of Cities, we can take a closer look at how regenerative placemaking was used in practice in various projects around the city of Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, which has gone from a depressed economy with declining public health, to becoming the world’s most liveable city according to The Economist. Here’s how the authors define the process.

Employing regenerative thinking in the sense of re-activating and enlivening the city; using the city to support social and ecological capacity; and activating these strategies through fine-grained testing of ideas and active agency of stakeholders; Auckland’s efforts to revitalize the heart of the city have been extraordinary.

Living systems thinking
The first of six “reflections of note,” living systems thinking, is used to emphasise the importance of reconnecting Auckland to its natural systems.

The redevelopment of a vibrant waterfront not with a “anchor tenant” to drive commerce but an “anchor playground” to foster community and children’s health

Transdisciplinary knowledge exchange
It is about consulting with everyone across disciplines, generations, and indigenous populations.

the Auckland Council appointed a Māori Design Leader resulting in greater custodianship and integration of the Māori language and worldview in all activities

Rigorous and inclusive community engagement
“Community engagement done well means that they are agents in the eventual outcome and have a sense of custodianship and stewardship, which is critical.”

Biophilia and sustainability practices
Make sure to make nature an integral part of how spaces are considered and planned by asking simple questions like:

  • “How can ecological value be added?”
  • “How can we connect ecosystems around us to interact, learn and contribute?”
  • “How can we realize and communicate the social and economic benefits of creating a nature-filled place?”

Regenerative placemaking interventions
They are constantly testing their hypothesis and using tactical urbanism and place activation.

Avoiding gentrification
Trying to reduce gentrification by making existing businesses part of new development plans and collaborating broadly to implement new forms of ownership.

Collaboration across agencies and community on urban innovative homeownership models Shared ownership (SO) is a policy alternative widens access to affordable housing to low and moderate-income households by allowing the potential owner to purchase a share in a property (between 20-80%), while a third party (e.g., a housing association) owns the remaining share, on which the shared owner pays rent.

In short: when planning changes and evolution in a city, considering all aspects of it, from what’s already built, to nature, to the inclusion of every community, can result in much more liveable cities.

Photo: The Nelson Street Cycleway known as Te Ara I Whiti (“Pink Path”), by Ralph Webster.