A city that’s easy to get around is a city that is easy to enjoy – particularly one with events to experience. Placemaking and wayfinding improvements are ways to enhance the experience of the city centre and make it easy to get around.
Spatial projects within the city centre need to achieve certain outcomes based on the principles of the City Centre Strategy, best practice urban design and the guidance laid out with the proposed Ngāmotu Māori Design Principles. Spaces need to respond to place, Ngāti Te Whiti values, the uniqueness of Ngāmotu New Plymouth and the core functions of the city centre. As a collective of unique spaces they will need to work together to reinforce and define the central core of the city, from Queen Street to Liardet Street and Molesworth Street to Vivian Street.
The City Centre Material and Furniture Guide will provide guidance on typical elements to use in the city centre core and dictate how they should be applied across the city centre’s various areas and spaces to best achieve an appropriate level of quality and coherency for our city centre. This relies on spatial upgrades being consistent in their approaches and use of paving materials, furniture (such as seats, bins, bike racks etc.), lighting, planting, branding, signage, and other typical streetscape features whilst responding to differing spatial requirements, site briefs, uses and users.
The City Centre Material and Furniture Guide should contain a high-level spatial plan that outlines the various zones of the city, what materials and level of quality should be expected within each zone and specific considerations to be taken into account when designing new spaces or upgrading existing ones. It should give guidance on acceptable selections that enable consistency across spaces without over-prescribing outcomes.
The Material and Furniture Guide should also link to the process of working with mana whenua in regard to selecting and using materials when upgrading a space. Guided by the Ngāmotu Māori Design Principles, this will ensure representation of the cultural values of Ngāti Te Whiti in our city centre.
Laneways often provide service access to the back doors of stores and buildings as well as car parking, freeing up the street front for more valuable uses. As such, they can present poor design qualities and little activation, which could result in unsocial behaviour or general safety concerns. On the other hand, laneways create a much needed fine-grain network for pedestrians and cyclists, allowing them to find shortcuts through the over-extended city blocks.
Street artists, hospitality and retail businesses have already started to revitalise some laneways in the city centre, leveraging their potential as underutilised public spaces, each with its unique character.
A Laneway Activation Handbook would look at the existing laneway network to understand current conditions and uses of the laneways, where opportunities for improvement lie and guidance on the process and tools available for laneway retrofits. These could include encouraging more artworks such as murals, bespoke lighting and canopies, signage and wayfinding, pavement upgrades, planting and street furniture.
Working with local businesses to support them in opening up their facades to laneways, attracting more activity and passive surveillance would be a key aspect of the Laneway Activation Handbook. Where appropriate, NPDC could support laneway upgrades with a funding scheme, focusing efforts on public-private partnerships to maximise the benefits for the community, similar to the current Main Street Fund.
Events such as festivals could take place in laneways, inviting locals and visitors to explore these overlooked spaces.
The primary purpose of the Signage and Wayfinding Plan is to help locals and visitors intuitively navigate between points of interests such as Puke Ariki, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre and Pukekura Park, on foot or by cycle. The Wayfinding Plan will promote active mobility.
The Wayfinding Plan will support the inclusion of te reo Māori and waahi tapu, creating opportunities for bilingual and interpretive signage celebrating the rich dual history of our city centre.
The signage and Wayfinding Plan could result in new directional, interpretive and gateway signage being installed in streets and open spaces, creation of a tourist map for information and promotional purposes, and a City Centre App showcasing trails and key features.
The plan could also explore opportunities to create themed loops, inviting locals and tourists to discover our city centre from various perspectives.
Themes could include:
Themed loops could be physically identified with signs and maps, as well as doubling with a digital presence though the creation of an app that shows the network of all loops in one place. The app could invite people to share their experience and photos, linking with social media. Taking this a step further, the loops and the app could support the development of urban ‘treasure hunts’, making exploring the city centre a real adventure for all.
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Page last updated: 08:13AM Tue 30 November 2021