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Pop-up garden transforms empty CBD lot

Published: 29 November 2016

On 30 November, gardens, seesaws and shaded seating will be installed on the corner of Albert and Wellesley streets in Auckland’s CBD, creating an urban oasis on the site of the former Griffiths Building.

The new pop-up garden, Griffiths Gardens, will be an inviting inner-city back yard for CBD residents, workers and visitors. As well as seating, picnic tables and play equipment there will be a garden shed for gardening tools and bike repair gear.

Keeping the city centre vibrant during City Rail Link construction

It's the brainchild of the Auckland Design Office and is funded by the City Centre Advisory Board as part of its efforts to retain the vibrancy of the city centre during major capital works. The site was previously scheduled to lie empty for up to two years, pending the development of the Aotea City Rail Link station.

"As Auckland grows, we will see more sites left bare while they wait to be transformed into new civic amenities, and this a great opportunity for us to use those spaces, make them beautiful again and keep the city vibrant and appealing," says City Centre Advisory Board Chair Kate Healy.

Local groups will be able to use space

Individuals and community groups will be able to schedule small-scale activities in the garden through Auckland Council's events listing system.

"Use of the space will be free but there are criteria for listing an event in the garden. We are keen to see group meetings, yoga, dance, craft or writing workshops or chess – anything that a group might want to do in a small, urban park space," says Auckland Design Office Specialist Activation Designer Liz Allen.

‘Community fridge’ to reduce food waste

The pop-up garden will feature a community fridge, sponsored by the Love Food Hate Waste project. Donors will be able to leave unwanted food items for others to make use of. The community fridge pilot will be in place until Christmas.

For the love of bees

Griffith Garden will also become a central teaching hub for the city bee collaboration project, 'For the love of bees' in 2017.

Artist Sarah Smuts-Kennedy is the originator of the social sculpture 'For the Love of Bees - A City Bee Collaboration 2016-2018' commissioned by the Auckland Design Office at Auckland Council.

Griffith Garden will act as the home-base for the project and provide ongoing activation and community presence on the site. It will host workshops, talks and offer a place for people to 'get their hands dirty' during their lunch breaks. There will be no beehives on the site.