Auckland – the pedestrian experience…

Auckland is a very different city to a pedestrian than it is to a commuter. Auckland has one of the largest car ownership ratios in the world… but one of the most beautiful physical environments also, and what better way to see it than in the daily transit… So where is everybody…?

Catching the train, ferry or the bus, is time to think, read, work, draw, doodle, send text messages, day-dream, catch up with friends, chat to strangers, people watch, listen to your ipod… plan your day, night, weekend, life, have unexpected spontaneous encounters, and get from A-to-B without too much stress… The cool thing about Auckland transport is that we are not subject to security-conscious messages over the speaker system, like Sydney and London. And  Aucklanders are very friendly… I like the ticket conductor who calls out “Good Night peoples” as we leave the train in the evening.

Here’s some snapshots of  the daily journey from Titirangi to the School of Architecture via the  New Lynn Station, getting off at Grafton, a 15 minute walk through the Domain, and then up Grafton Road to the University…especially beautiful at this time of year…August 2011.


These are Louise Purvis’s concrete relief patterns at New Lynn Station. After studying them I realised there are just two basic patterns that have been reproduced in negative. The endless variation in the pattern comes from this play on positive and negative, and the rotation of the two reliefs in an infinite assemblage of possibilities. It’s incredible how mesmerising the work is. New Lynn Station is an example of a great design collaboration across architects, engineers and artists and a supportive, innovative, local council initiative.

Here’s my friend Sofia, about to catch the train for the first time ever, with her mum T.


I was lucky enough to catch the St Peters kapa haka group in official haka mode greeting the funeral cortege of the former Governor General, Sir Paul Reeves, as it drove towards the Museum….and the Cathedral. Very moving…


and construction workers take off their hats in respect to Sir Paul….


winter shadows in the Domain….


This last part of getting across the road is the trickiest pedestrian manoeuvre, as there are two roads and only one pedestrian crossing. The cars are coming off the motorway or getting back on. How great would it be to see a walk bridge joining the university and the city to the Domain….it’s been on the cards for a long time….apparently there was a big push to have a walkbridge during the motorway development of Grafton Gully but it did not occur….. It’s small intelligent, connecting incentives like this that Auckland needs, subtle interventions, the tweaks of urban acupuncture that revitalise the urban field through energising various points and trajectories, micro solutions that help connect our city…and connect our minds simultaneously…
….imagine if we could catch a ferry from New Lynn to Devonport and on to St Heliers, or the train from Onehunga to Avondale, or a floating walkway between Laingholm and South Titirangi across the mud….small connecting ideas….


…the architecture school….

So to imagine into the space of a walkbridge that would connect the city and the university with Auckland Domain…check out this beautiful bridge by architects Atelier Li Xiaodong in the Fujian district of China that links a village to a school….


You can read about the power of a single bridge to bring a village to life here


One thought on “Auckland – the pedestrian experience…

  1. So lovely to revisit Auckland from the heart of Burgundy, France in this way. It doesn’t quite get me rushing back to return to good old NZ after 13 years country living here, but your images and persuading words nicely put me into a reminiscing mood. Especially about the first place I lived in (a flat in a rambling old villa on Grafton Road, no longer existing…) when I first moved to Auckland in 1980. I used to call the Domain my front garden.
    The mud pool resembling images on the wall off New Lynn station are truly wonderful and indeed clever ! Hard to believe they are concrete and not ceramic tiles. It is a beautiful example how public art or applied art can take the hard edge off daily living, and also off harsh sounds, steel and, yes, concrete. Thanks for this post Jacquie.

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