Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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How a stream can change a city

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posted on 2021-12-07, 10:57 authored by Stone, Matthew James

The motivation of this thesis is to generate an understanding of how cities can begin to shift towards pedestrian friendly centres for activity. Introducing streams into urban environments through the process of daylighting can generate public life, improve sustainability, and enable growth. Daylighting is the process of bringing a stream back to the surface into a more natural state. By ensuring the stream is used as the core driver for strategic change, development can occur on the edges of the stream as a decentralised hub for activity and movement within the public realm. The stream as a public element can connect people and create active stakeholders within urban communities as the contributors to the vibrancy of the city.  Daylighting can be the catalyst to revitalise Wellington and demonstrate that urban environments are not confined to the existing structure of the city when reintegrating natural elements. Pedestrian activity along stream edges can act as a central mode of urban life, complementing Wellington’s existing waterfront. Generating public space around water as a central hub can connect people to social spaces that the city has previously turned from in favour of roads. Establishing dominant pedestrian areas located around a daylighted stream enables public space to prioritise activity over movement and allows infrastructure to prioritise people over vehicles. From hills to harbour, water can be used as a design tool, generating a language that can activate urban environments.  In developing the stream’s framework, it is important that the first considerations take regard of the direction and flow of the water’s path. The directionality of the stream should have the greatest benefit to the affected stakeholders to ensure the stream positively contributes to the qualities of the city. This contribution is essential for the people that work or live adjacent to the new infrastructure, as they will occupy the new space most frequently. Viability of the stream is dependent on the path it takes through the city, as this affects which landowners will be included in the project. Old or small structures, empty sites such as car parks, or roadways with limited vehicle movement could provide the greatest opportunity for development within the city. These should be considered fundamental to the implementation of the stream as they mitigate the changes to the affected stakeholders and benefit other members within the adjacent area.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Title

Restructuring a city for the people

Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Connolly, Peter