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A design by fourth-year planning students to revitalise the Awapuni neighbourhood centre

Fresh designs to revitalise neighbourhood centres

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The concept for a revamped Roslyn shopping centre

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A design for an integrated community centre in Cloverlea

Massey University planning students have come up with creative and fresh designs to revitalise six Palmerston North neighbourhood centres, including skate parks, revamped recreation areas and pedestrian-friendly shopping precincts.

The fourth-year students worked in groups to develop a master plan for the Awapuni, Cloverlea, Cook Street shops, Takaro and Roslyn community hubs as part of a place-making project.

The neighbourhoods were selected in consultation with the Palmerston North City Council urban design team, which has a clear vision what centres need revitalisation in the near future.

Senior lecturer in resource and environment planning Dr Imran Muhammad says the students’ creative, and original thinking impressed him.

“The design proposals are fresh and original and based on academic literature, best practice case studies and more importantly local community feedback,” he says.

“I have been extremely impressed by the creative, fresh and innovative thinking and engaged process students applied to their projects.

Each group began by visiting the neighbourhood centre to develop an inventory of the shops, activities, architecture and streetscape, and explored its history to “understand why the place is the way it is”, Dr Muhammad says.

They then conducted a survey to examine how motorists, cyclists and pedestrians use the neighbourhood centres, and did an informal intercept survey of people and shop owners about their needs and dreams.

Based on the data and skills they developed in Massey’s urban design studio, each group generated a detailed three-dimensional master plan, which included sketches or artist impressions for the future.

The students’ designs covered traffic calming measures, green transport infrastructure such as cycle parking and bus shelters, social infrastructure including libraries, community centres and informal spaces, and ways to improve the identity, and recognise the diversity, of the communities.

Ideas proposed include a skate park for Takaro, a lake, a new cafe and revamped park for Awapuni, a more pedestrian-focused shopping centre for Roslyn, well integrated community centre for Cloverlea, a distinct identity for West End and a public space to acknowledge diversity of population around Cook Street shops.

Dr Muhammad says the project helped students apply theoretical knowledge, urban planning literature and the practical skills they learned in the studio.
The design projects applied Danish urban designer Professor Jan Gehl’s methodology of studying public spaces and complement the PNCC urban design strategy, draft street design manual and draft city centre framework.

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