Auckland makeover misses the mark

A cascade of steps at varying angles to each other in front of a building. Palm trees stand in front of the building and at the top of the steps. A small number of people are sitting on the grey concrete steps.After seeing the Auckland Design Manual and the work they have done on promoting universal design, it is a pity that the designers of Auckland’s Freyberg Place didn’t seem to refer to it. Simon Wilson gives a good critique of the new public space, both positive and not so positive. It is good to see how he pinpoints what would be glaring errors to followers of inclusive/universal design. See the article for the design “errors” that really just amount to thoughtlessness. Form has overtaken function in this example. In a separate article by Chris Barton, the issues of design and development are outlined.

Auckland is a city built on steep grades in all directions. So accessible paths of travel are always going to be a problem. Freyberg Place is designed deliberately with steps, says Chris Barton, which are supposed to replicate lava flows. The steps are meant to double as seating, but there are two things missing: back and armrests and some shade and rain cover. While there is poor pram and wheelchair access, at least more mobile people could sit in comfort.