If spaces could talk what would they say - Spatial communication and Representation in Landscape Architecture
An important component of landscape architecture is its ability to represent processes of re-imagining and designing the places we live in. The way we represent these processes of designing landscape presents an interesting opportunity for change in the current planning mechanisms of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Planning processes, such as engagement and consultation with the public, play a critical role in our ability to design the places we work and live successfully. These processes are often complex as they seek to address a wide range of technical, political, social and environmental issues. In all there complexity it is most often the task of engaging with community which is the first to be abandoned. Meaningful community engagement is critical to the success of any public project and needs to be better understood with regards to access and agency. If done well, community engagement has the ability to create good social outcomes and can lead to a greater sense of collective ownership. Landscape Architecture has the capability to bridge the gap between planning, public space, and communities by endeavouring to re-conceptualise the current approach toward community engagement processes. Current approaches to engagement in planning remain relatively formal and most often rely solely on written modes of public participation such as submissions. Spatial methods of communication are yet to be explored and tested in community engagement and provide an opportunity to reach marginalised communities, who are often missed in the current processes. This research identifies Kilbirnie as a suburb on the brink of significant spatial and social change. Based upon its spatial proximity to Wellington’s CBD, its growing and diversifying community, Kilbirnie presents a contentious site for future planning. The aim of this research is to expand traditional engagement mechanisms by using spatial mediums which provoke, and in turn, create meaningful community participation in the long term planning of Kilbirnie. This thesis will test the spatial as an effective medium for planning communication through a series of installations in Kilbirnie. The installations will be tested in sites that offer different typological qualities in order to understand how existing infrastructure can aid in the processes of spatial communication and engagement. This research argues that through installation and spatial communication it is possible to transform traditional forms of representation in planning and the attitudes of communities toward engaging with planning.