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The Gateway to the South: Enhancing Connectivity between Port and Town

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posted on 2021-11-22, 00:43 authored by Melville, Angela

This thesis explores how issues that have arisen from large scale ferry ports and industrial developments have resulted in disrupting the connectivity to neighbouring townships. It proposes a novel architecturally resolved terminal and ferry port, with a speculative siting in Picton to re-establish a relationship between port and township through connectivity and synergy.  Rapid change, growth and master planning within the ferry industry all play a vital role in anticipating land and infrastructural needs. A key interface between a roro (roll-on roll-off) vessel and the shore is essential to ensure optimum traffic flow for fast operation. Due the ferry’s roro service of transporting and carrying vehicles it is common for the main highways to and from the port to bypass a neighbouring township, resulting in fewer tourists visiting the neighbouring town centre. Railway tracks also play a similar role in creating boundaries of segregation between the port and town. In towns where the port is disproportionately large in relation to township, such as Dover in South-East England, Ballygillane, Rosslare Ireland and Picton New Zealand, infrastructural pressures have resulted in an imbalance in hierarchy between the ferry port and the township. It is important to re-establish a relationship between ferry ports and their neighbouring towns to rehabilitate the small township to ensure its place for future use.  The thesis investigates architecture’s role in reconciling a large scale ferry terminal with a small township. It asks how architecture, urban design and infrastructure can be applied to a township to enforce connectivity between ferry port and town. This thesis explores the question by proposing a case study design in Picton New Zealand. The relationship that roro ferry terminals have to their local context is impeded by train tracks, rail yards, car parking and marshalling yards. To analyse this large land-use component, the design uses three key functioning scales; Urban, Infrastructure and Architectural. i) Urban: The Urban Design reinforces the connection of the land to the sea. This was achieved by excavating a large portion of reclaimed land. This acknowledges the towns past and history, both topographically and culturally. This was developed into a new marina, bringing the sea edge closer to the township acting as a connection to the terminal and port.  (ii) Infrastructure: Functionality and layout is critical, Port infrastructure layouts were studied to determine the most beneficial arrangement. The rail marshalling yards were pushed away from the town centre to eliminate segregation of the township, and the vehicle stacking yards were moved closer to the town to encourage movement between the town and port.  (iii) Architectural : The architectural design of the Ferry Terminal uses inspiration from historic narratives and case study analysis from iconic ferry terminals around the world such as Naoshima ferry terminal, White Bay Cruise terminal and Vancouver Cruise terminal. The architectural scale also consists of three other key design elements that enhance the journey from terminal to town a drawbridge, a designed town edge and a redevelopment of the Edwin fox museum. These three structures are positioned on key pathways for community and social interaction. The three scales above identify individual key drivers of each scale in the design. The thesis argues that the introduction of a “new” ferry terminal coupled with a new urban design framework could improve connectivity between the ferry and the township transforming Picton into a more dynamic, economically viable township.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


McDonald, Chris