Lots of “physical Geography” stuff but not much on the human element
Last night the Auckland Conversations kicked off again with the topic being Changing Streets to Change the World. The guest speaker was Skye Duncan who gave the run down on how changing cultural attitudes to streets would lead to a more humane situation with our most dominant public space in a large City like Auckland.
You can watch the presentation with the Q+A session (alongside Auckland Transport’s Greg Edmonds) below.
I struggled with the presentation last night as I found it lop-sided toward the physical elements of streets, streetscapes and the public realm with very little mention of the human elements needed to make the street humane within the city. Maybe it is the steAm side in me (given I graduated out with Arts) that struggles when an effective STEM talk is given about a human element of a City (steAm = science, technology, engineering, Arts and math while STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
The following tweet would probably best illustrate my reaction to last night’s presentation:
As I see it there is no point starting a design of the street until you identify what people associate (or utilise) the surrounding area for.
Using Manukau City Centre as an example I ran this theory game through with Rebekka last night on area identity leading to that eventual street design.
The question asked is how do you identify or utilise Manukau City Centre? Is it just a place of work or a place of retail and/or socialisation.
This table gives a quick overview:
Quick stop can also mean passing through.
Depending how you answered the above question is how street design would be answered. The identity question is the most crucial question before we can crank out the Sketchups and pencils and get cranking on street design and I felt the identity question (so the human element) was glossed over if not missed.
I did note Auckland Transport is to bring out a Street Design Manual. Be interesting to see given AT’s focus is on traffic flow and inefficient use of land over people!