In the true spirit of city centre community cooperation, Planning Students from Auckland University, the Dept of Internal Affairs and Splice have been working together looking at public spaces and throughways in the city.
Many of these public spaces and throughways exist because the development of the associated building was allowed to be bigger or taller and the trade-off was the contribution of a public amenity.
Splice staff provided a session to the students on the realities of apartment living. We spoke of the importance of public space when your living environment is tight and of the ability to momentarily escape roads choked with cars (or a stiff climb up a hill) by legitimately shimmyingthrough buildings via a throughway.
During a presentation of the students' post-shimmying exploratory findings, I was struck by a number of questions.
How public is this public space? Has it been designed to be a genuinely useful space, or is it a concrete seat in the rain that screams reluctant compliance? Does it look like a public space or is it a confusing integration with its host structure - am I allowed? Should I linger in this throughway, or is the expectation of my perpetual motion from entry to exit, preferably at pace.
When the street is your living room, space to stop and rest without engaging in commercial interaction is an important part of the fabric of city living. Intimate spaces of a human scale where conversation or a game of backgammon ormah jong might quietly erupt.
- Mik Smellie