Recognition: Natural Landscape History as a Catalyst
The cumulative effects of urban sprawl and early settler colonisation have seemingly led to a lack of identity and sense of place within parks and reserves throughout New Zealand. As a product of these anthropic influences, a degradation of sensitive ecosystems and deterioration of the ability for parks and reserves to facilitate joyful experiences through environmental aesthetics has occurred. The natural history of landscapes has the potential to reestablish these natural and cultural connections by acting as catalyst for positive change. Landscape architecture as a profession is well equipped to enable and empower natural history to ignite this chain reaction. Therefore, this research aims to explore how landscape architecture can reassert the identity of public spaces by emulating the logic of past landscapes.
Porirua, specifically, Bothamley Park, is a reserve that possesses these problematic tendencies. Located within a rapidly developing suburban area and exhibiting “pastoral” and “static” eighteenth and nineteenth-century qualities, the site was once a thriving lowland-podocarp broadleaved forest supporting extensive native biodiversity. Now a fragmented ecological corridor, the reserve’s natural and cultural identity has been rendered less significant. Thus, Bothamley Park has extreme potential to become a landscape that embodies meaning. Therefore, Bothamley Park is an ideal case study to test how the natural history can enliven a public space. Through the application of a design toolkit, built upon systematic site analysis, fieldwork, theory and design experimentation, Bothamley Park has the potential to become a precedent for other landscapes exhibiting similar tendencies.