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See Mt Albert Town Centre through students' eyes

Published: 26 November 2018
Glenda Fryer, Deputy Chair, Albert-Eden Local Board with Unitec students. 

First-year Unitec Bachelor of Landscape Architecture students have been invited to explore how Auckland's urban spaces are made. The students have been looking at existing spaces in Auckland, including the Mt Albert Town Centre, and presenting their ideas to a panel including members of Albert-Eden Local Board.

Unitec Bachelor of Landscape Architecture is run by lecturer Sibyl Bloomfield and Associate Prof Matthew Bradbury. It introduces the students to the principles of urban design through a study of urban typology, principally the square, the street and the park. 

For their assignment, the students had the opportunity to talk with landscape architects, urban designers and clients in Auckland and hear what they think makes a great urban space. They then had the choice to design one of three different urban spaces in the city including Mt Albert Square.

The winning designer from the process, Nick Meyers, says:

“I decided to create a proposal for 915 New North Road as it was clear this location was the backbone of its neighbourhood and I focused on its potential to transform into a hub for the locals of Mt Albert.

“In my site analysis, I saw the abundance of transport routes and public spaces that are currently completely segregated by physical structures and material changes.

"The site has access to bus routes, main roads, foot traffic, cycle lanes, heritage buildings and the train station, giving it a massive amount of potential to centralise the area," he said.

Mr Meyers' design focus on opening all edges and linking these spaces together to create as much ease and flow in the area as possible made it the winning design. He will be presenting it to Albert-Eden Local Board at its November business meeting.

“Mt Albert town centre has just undergone a recent town centre upgrade and was the perfect fit for our students, says Unitec lecturer Sibyl Bloomfield.

“It is close to Unitec, a blank slate site, and importantly the enthusiastic engagement from Albert-Eden Local Board Deputy Chair Glenda Fryer as a representative client made this the opportunity for students to be exposed to an active project and engage with a 'real' client.”

Earlier this year, almost 400 people visited the newly refurbished Mt Albert town centre at its official opening. Currently, over 2100 people access public transport every day at Mt Albert - one of Auckland's oldest suburbs - aside from the thousands of people using roads through the centre.

The $6.5 million upgrade project was funded by the local board and delivered by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport

"I was impressed by the students’ designs," says Glenda Fryer, Deputy Chair, Albert-Eden Local Board.

"Nick Meyers proposals looked at the totality of the site in a unique and interesting manner making it a public space on many levels.

“Auckland council purchased the ground lease of the car park to build a town square and needs to start a design process for this soon, so works can start when the subleases expire in 2021-22.”