Building Auckland is Like City Lego or Cities Skylines

A view on City building


Someone told me that I see Auckland as one big City Lego set or (if in virtual) one big Cities Skylines ‘simulation.’ That being I would see Auckland as one big jigsaw puzzle and each time another piece of the puzzle is to be added it has to fit with the existing set (or the existing puzzle rearranged so the new piece does fit). If I want to keep the citizens happy and the budget in the black (on average) than keeping on top of the puzzle is a must.

While Cities Skylines is an urban simulator the dynamics of transport kick in extremely quickly if you want to keep the City functioning. The same would be with a City Lego set as well, without the road and rail pieces your Lego City jams up just as fast. When industry complains it can’t move its freight, commerce complains it is not getting goods from industry, and workers can not get to work efficiently you know your City’s productivity will dive like Auckland’s.


Productivity for the 2014 year. Source; Auckland Plan Annual Implementation Update
Productivity for the 2014 year.
Source; Auckland Plan Annual Implementation Update


Ultimately the puzzle or the Lego set requires full integrated planning in order for the City to fire on all its cylinders.


There are five puzzle pieces that constantly need adding to or rejigging with a City as it evolves. Those five pieces are:

  1. Residential
  2. Commercial
  3. Industry
  4. Civic
  5. Transport

Civic is your parks, health, education, police and fire in this instance. I have not included power or water infrastructure as they are placed at the same time (or planned ahead) as the other five pieces go down.


Your  five indicators or goals are the following when laying down those puzzle pieces:

  1. Citizen and business happiness
  2. Tax base
  3. City growth
  4. Commute timings
  5. Export/imports

The first point is the sum of the other four points plus amenity according to the needs of the resident or the business.


So there are my five puzzle pieces and there are my five indicators needing to be watched when building the City in Cities Skylines. For Auckland it would be similar with the export/import being your freight transport indicator (how efficiently freight moves within the urban area).

It means I am a macro-level person, a big picture person who would rather level the micro-details to someone else. And by big picture I mean I am more than happy to handle a sub-region like Southern Auckland compared to the entire Auckland region as a whole (hence the blog’s focus) when it comes to City building.

Does the macro-level thinker conflict out with the micro-level thinker? Usually it does due to pace of the environment differs between the two. What can fuel the conflict is if the macro-level person prefers to work autonomously (which I believe is when such a person is working in their best productive environment) compared to another who prefers high levels of structure. It also means the macro-level person can run into a bit of strife is micro-mesh blocks like individual streets, neighbourhoods and communities are missed out in the big picture. This is easily countered though if the macro is successfully paired up with a micro as the two would moderate each other rather than cancel each other out (cue conflict). 

If you ask me what Council is good at I would say they are good at the micro for the most part but forget the macro. Sure we have the Auckland and Unitary Plans but those macro level documents are failing to mesh with the micro level requirements of individual people and communities. It means we as a City struggle to actually put the five respective puzzle pieces together while I run into strife when trying to put the puzzle pieces together due to the tendency of culture to focus on the micro. A culture egged on by our Governance structure where we have Ward councillors (like Electorate MPs) and no Regional-at-large Councillors to counter balance it off.


What to do?

Understanding how a macro-level, big picture, sees the City as one Cities Skylines puzzle or giant Lego set person with a particular skill set (often Geography) sees the wider picture would be a start. In terms of cities they will look at macro-level projects that at minimum maintain the five goals (mentioned above) but more preferably enhance them at a sub-regional level or regional level. That is why things like the Super Metropolitan Centre is touted as it both fits the sub-regional and regional big picture of driving up productivity while lifting the socio-economic well-being of the citizens.

At sub-regional level the Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre gives an employment, leisure and civic anchor point for Southern Auckland. At a regional level the Super Metropolitan Centre acts as a pressure relief value to the main City Centre constrained by land and transport infrastructure. Given we can not send half a million people through the Otahuhu-Mt Wellington bottleneck (rail and motorway) to work in the City Centre the Super Metropolitan Centre acts as a relief value where remote offices can be established in Manukau to tap into the worker pool of the South. Tapping into that worker pool and having them work in the Super Metro means they are not commuting into the Isthmus and through the transport bottlenecks. The consequence of that is productivity increasing with workers not strung up on long commutes five days a week. Back at sub-regional level the clustering of businesses who are based in the City Centre but establish remote offices in a Super Metro has flow on effects as those remote offices will need servicing.

So as you can see the Super Metropolitan Centre was designed in the big picture scheme to both benefit Auckland as a region and South Auckland as a sub-region. Complementing rather than competing.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Personality Type

Well this might give an insight to why I am a macro-level thinker who sees Auckland as one big Lego set or Cities Skylines simulation:



Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

ENFPs are both “idea”-people and “people”-people, who see everyone and everything as part of a cosmic whole. They want to both help and to be liked and admired by other people, on both an individual and a humanitarian level. This is rarely a problem for the ENFP, as they are outgoing and warm, and genuinely like people. Some ENFPs have a great deal of zany charm, which can ingratiate them to more stodgy types in spite of their unconventionality.

ENFPs often have strong, if sometimes surprising, values and viewpoints. They tend to try to use their social skills and contacts to persuade others gently (though enthusiastically) of the rightness of these views; this sometimes results in the ENFP neglecting their nearest and dearest while caught up their efforts to change the world.

ENFPs can be the warmest, kindest, and most sympathetic of mates; affectionate, demonstrative, and spontaneous. Many in relationships with an ENFP literally say, “They light up my life.” But there is usually a trade-off: the partner must be willing to deal with the practical and financial aspects of the relationship, and the ENFP must be allowed the freedom to follow their latest path, whatever that entails.


In the workplace, ENFPs are pleasant and friendly, and interact in a positive and creative manner with both their co-workers and the public. ENFPs are also a major asset in brainstorming sessions; follow-through on projects can be a problem, however. ENFPs do get distracted, especially if another interesting issue comes along. They also tend towards procrastination, and dislike performing small, uninteresting tasks. ENFPs are most productive when working in a group with a few Js to handle the details and the deadlines.

ENFPs are friendly folks. Most are really enjoyable people. Some of the most soft-hearted people are ENFPs.


One study has shown that ENFPs are significantly overrepresented in psychodrama. Most have a natural propensity for role-playing and acting.

ENFPs like to tell funny stories, especially about their friends. This penchant may be why many are attracted to journalism. I kid one of my ENFP friends that if I want the sixth fleet to know something, I’ll just tell him.

ENFPs are global learners. Close enough is satisfactory to the ENFP, which may unnerve more precise thinking types, especially with such things as piano practice (“three quarter notes or four … what’s the difference?”) Amazingly, some ENFPs are adept at exacting disciplines such as mathematics.


One ENFP colleague, a social worker, had such tremendous interpersonal skills that she put her interviewers at ease during her own job interview. She had the ability to make strangers feel like old friends.

ENFPs sometimes can be blindsided by their secondary Feeling function. Hasty decisions based on deeply felt values may boil over with unpredictable results. More than one ENFP has abruptly quit a job in such a moment.

(ENFP stands for Extravert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving and represents individual’s preferences in four dimensions characterising personality type, according to Jung’s and Briggs Myers’ theories of personality type.)


ENFP Communication Skills

 The wish to understand others and to help them is what fills an ENFP’s life with meaning and serves as their main motivation. This is how they perceive the world and the people around them – their emotions and actions. One might say that orientation of an ENFP’s feelings is primarily defined by the following factors: opportunity to offer assistance vs. lack thereof, and acceptance vs. rejection. They feel their best when they have the opportunity to help and they are accepted by others and their worst when they encounter withdrawal and rejection.

Few can rival an ENFP in their ability to convince people and to earn their trust. They excel in feeling and understanding human relationships, and are always ready to pay attention to the other party’s feelings. An ENFP’s style of communication is characterized by their readiness to help by activating and developing other party’s abilities.

Communication with an ENFP is pleasant and easy. They often improvise in their discussion of various topics, although they can prepare a conversation agenda in advance. Many ENFPs are very energetic and always ready to join a discussion of any sort. They often initiate riveting discussions.

ENFPs dislike solitude and require company in everything they do. They try to diversify their interaction with others as much as possible so as to avoid monotony in communication.

ENFPs find it easy enough to communicate with people of different personality types on a variety of subjects, although their interest in topics that are heavily analytical in nature is somewhat lower.

An ENFP will have an extensive and diverse circle of friends and acquaintances. They do a great deal of active communicating at receptions and meetings, or during public events and recreational activities.

ENFPs tend to have a large number of business contacts, and their communication routine can be rather intense. Their co-workers (or others who work in the same field) are often reliant on, or interested in, their competent opinion of counsel on professional subjects. An ENFP’s communication agenda usually involves an exchange of ideas and opinions, professional consultation, and practical advice.




In short communicating ideas and thoughts while thinking up the big picture stuff can be seen as what I am good and like to do. Just don’t ask me to drill down into details. For example I can set up a mass transit system just don’t ask me to get down to the nitty-gritty detail of where to place every single bus stop along the way.



I hope that gives you an insight into some of my ‘thought’ processes to how I see Auckland and the wider world when it comes to Urban Geography.


Neo Layton City as of 14 June 2016 at night
Neo Layton City as of 14 June 2016 at night