A New Zealand Superblock: Smart Planned Development
Wellington city’s forecast, for the period 2011-31, is that the urban population will increase by 20,000 residents, including 60% increased demand for rental properties. This research investigation focuses on sustainable means of increasing housing density in the face of ever-increasing urban sprawl. The research proposes that Wellington City Council’s Smart Capital (2010) initiatives for urban expansion infrastructure projects—with aims to attain progressive urban growth with desirable characteristics—are good on some levels, but remedies such as infill and intensification that encroach on urban green spaces are unsustainable. The encroachments caused by urban sprawl can damage both environmental design characteristics and, the well-being of inhabitants. The thesis proposes that smart planned development (SPD) principles, when sustainably maintained, can be an effective alternative urbanisation method to WCC’s Smart Capital propositions. This investigation proposes a theoretical formulation supporting the construction of superblocks within New Zealand, using SPD as a process. For example, Lincolnshire Farm in Wellington is a site exemplar whose proximity and size would permit the city to construct alternative spatial configurations, in the form of a modified superblock for the New Zealand context. The Modern Movement reflected on the viability of superblocks of urban housing for population growth. Historically, these superblocks when built were problematic due to the detrimental attributes of automobiles, densities, and metropolitan expansions. This thesis proposes ways to mitigate these difficulties by merging relevant components of three environmental approaches: ‘Ecological Design’ principles by Sim Van der Ryn; ‘Green Urbanism’ principles by Steffen Lehmann; and framework of ‘Green Transit Oriented Development’ proposed by Robert Cervero and Catherine Sullivan. Once relevant aspects of these principles are assimilated, the research examines them within the context of Kevin Lynch’s principles for a good city form (GCF), to help contribute to the development of new sustainable criteria for superblocks in New Zealand. As case studies, the comparative methodology of this investigation evaluates the achievements of Woodberry Down in London, Discovery Bay in Hong Kong, and Linked Hybrid in Beijing, and Hobsonville Point in Auckland.