Edge Effect: Reconnecting Whangarei's City and River
Whangarei City has a dying Commercial Centre. This has resulted from population shifts that have occurred over time. Significant issues have driven movement of people toward much larger cities (seeking better economic, cultural and social outcomes) and more spacious urban fringes (seeking improved environmental outcomes). The Whangarei CBD incorporates both the dying Commercial Centre and a thriving Town Basin which is the centre for Arts and Recreation within the city. The two areas are a juxtaposition. The investigation reveals reasons why two such contrasting areas exist and defines a design solution that seeks to resolve this and leverages the success of the Town Basin to revive the Commercial Centre. The aim of this thesis is to investigate ways that architecture can be used to invigorate Whangarei’s dying Commercial Centre by creating a place of activity, engagement and informal learning and by re-establishing the important connection Whangarei has with its river as well as other positives within the city. Thesis objectives: • Identify the reasons for the decline of the Commercial Centre and the success of the Town Basin and how a connection can be established between the two. • Establish a beating heart within the dying Commercial Centre and provide a life source in the form of people movement into the centre from all parts of the city. • Provide dynamic spaces which encourage informal learning, social interaction, playfulness and creativity that will engage the people of Whangarei including youth and children. • Use the natural environment as a means of engaging people of all ages by weaving together water, a restored ecology and architecture.