The Multiplicity of Now: An Alternate Vision for a Small Town
Many rural towns within NZ are suffering from decline. However, a few are breaking that trend and conversely suffering growing pains. This design-led thesis seeks to understand and interpret how the small town of Cromwell in the South Island of New Zealand (NZ) might grow to not only support its booming population but also unlock its Sense of Place. Often smaller localities lack the resources and capability to invest in good urban design/architecture, let alone the political resolve to see through a long term implementation. This thesis operates in a theoretical realm and therefore has the ability to ponder, How would you tackle this scenario if resources were less of a barrier?
This research looks at theories of identity, memory and Place, and weaves these philosophical ideas with a real town, with real problems, to explore an alternate vision for Cromwell. Cromwell is somewhat unique in that it was once located at the mouth of two rivers, until a lake, only 30 years ago, flooded the town centre in its entirety. A new town centre was built further north, but the passage of time revealed it denies its people a communal heart and a sense of Place. The resulting research informs the design of a new town and roading network, which, it is argued, can go a long way towards increasing the town’s visibility, community and enhance its Place. The final outcome presents a vision for Cromwell and offers an alternative interpretation of the principles that should be valued when faced with growth in Cromwell but also more generally in other smaller NZ towns.