Taking the high road: Retrofitting amenity onto urban arterial roads
Amenity values on urban arterial roads are fraught. This is largely due to the traditional traffic capacity versus amenity trade-off. This trade-off implies that high-capacity roads must be inherently deficient in amenity due to issues of air quality, noise nuisance and the physical barrier of streams of traffic. However, a more nuanced position – and one adopted by this thesis - is that arterial roads can be both busy thoroughfares and active, enjoyable destinations. This design-led research explores retrofitting amenity values onto existing arterial roads, creating new spaces and improving qualities of a system not originally constructed with amenity in mind. Cuba Street in Lower Hutt is a regionally significant connector intended for future densified development. In addition to the current link function, this road needs to become more attractive as a destination and address. Consideration at the urban scale encourages broad, strategic planning to support amenity holistically. This urban planning addresses topics like desirable densification, transit-oriented development, walkable centres and how these affect the arterial road condition. In moving from urban-scaled to architectural design, the detailed implementation of the greater policies is tested. Architecture is engaged to respond to the immediate arterial road conditions with spaces and surfaces, protective buffers and layers. In this way - with architectural refinement and a comprehensive, coherent strategy - traffic capacity and amenity can be brought into balance.