The Innovating Streets for People programme (2019–2021) by Waka Kotahi provided councils across Aotearoa the opportunity to engage in new ways of imagining, designing, and building their streets—contributing to a larger goal of creating safe, liveable, low-carbon streets with more transport choice. Working with councils across the motu gave us the unique opportunity to rapidly test a wide range of tactical, agile and collaborative design approaches that have delivered real change.
We worked with councils in Invercargill, Auckland and Wellington to quickly test city-shaping ideas in real-time with the community. These projects used small and often playful interventions to challenge people to rethink how they see and use their streets; a tactical urbanism approach enabled phased improvements to urban transport corridors to be delivered quickly and affordably. Each project had specific constraints, challenges, and opportunities but all used temporary, low-cost interventions allowing ideas to be tested, and adapted in real time, rapidly exposing what works and what doesn’t. Small interventions using a simple palette of materials and elements—such as cones, planters, and paint—challenged users to rethink how they see and use space, contributing to the larger goal of creating safe, liveable streets. The tactical approach means ideas can be tested, measured and adjusted in a way that is simply not possible if undertaking a permanent public works project.
In all four cities we trialled ‘road-diets’, to tip the balance and make streets and work for people, not just vehicles. With densification and population growth more users need to be accommodated for within existing road space—finding more space for people requires something to give—the changes that the best solutions require demands positive public support. The most successful projects of this nature are a result of positive and meaningful interactions with clients, stakeholders, and the community, striving for win-win outcomes that address multiple challenges. We make the design process accessible and easy to understand for everyone. With a range of tools and techniques we invite users to participate in the design process and in doing so build community ‘ownership’ into the project outcome.
By clearly defining the problem with people, we establish the essential things to test and prototype and generate solutions that are purposeful and meaningful. We have been able to help reconnect people to place and help them lead a much–needed rebalancing of road space.