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Designs architecture. Writer and blogger. Also a freelance architecture and fashion photographer.

 

 

Connection

With the gap between the Capitol Cinema and the buildings on the north side, there is an opportunity to connect the mainstreet (Dominion Road) with the back street (the service lane/multiuse space between Balmoral shops and behind the Warehouse). Furthermore, there is a potential connection from the backstreet across to the Warehouse carpark, perhaps activating that space.

A further cross connection such as this one increases flow through layers of Balmoral, instead of depending on vehicle trodden routes which move around blocks. Good examples of these small but effective connections are Fearon Hay's Imperial Lane and the path inside of RTA Studio's Ironbank Building on Karangahape Road.

Fearon Hay's Imperial Lane between Queen Street Fort Lane Auckland
Within Imperial Lane, a slight bend in the axis from Fort Lane (front) to Queen Street  (lighted path in the back right).  A slight slope up to the central area creates a sense of elevation and arrival as a threshold to Fort Lane. The entrance at Queen Street, on the other hand, is camouflaged among the other street frontages.
In Imperial Lane, the space between the historic Queen Street buildings are converted into a commercial/eatery/office spaces with contemporary materials working in the same language as the industrial past of the original shell. Connecting Queen Street (importantly the downtown area) and Imperial Lane which, before the streetscape renovation, was a dumpy back alley with unpleasant smells (still has some today I suppose), Imperial Lane's connection breaks up the large block into more pedestrian friendly paths to Fort Lane, Customs Street and Fort Street - a new network beneficial for the area that breaks away from the straight street edge typology typical of Queen Street and Balmoral Shops.

The connection within RTA Studio Ironbank building K Road Auckland
At the Ironbank, the path access from K Road to Cross Street bends around approviding approaches to the internal courtyard (activated by beanbags and the umbrellas) creating a multi-axial and inhabitable semi-public space.
The Iron Bank on the other hand does not bore through an existing fabric. Within the building complex itself, a pedestrian pathway was formed, connecting K Road with Cross Street around the back. Interestingly the path is not a straight one - this also decreases the likelihood of the lane becoming a wind tunnel (although first hand experience shows that there is a bit of a problem with this).

A common trait between these examples is that there is a bend in the connecting street and through route is activated with different uses - beanbags, tables and chairs, game machines. The space between Dominion Road and the Warehouse carpark has a bend also, which provides micro-climate protection (i.e. against wind tunnels) and possibilities for an interesting activated space.

I had a bit of a conversation on Twitter about these urban connections with @citysituated, an urban planner, just within the fleeting dialogue we had recalled a bunch of great examples where small scale connectivity in the city helps create vibrant pedestrian networks. Airbridges at PWC, Takutai Square, Cross Street, connecting arcades in Queens Arcade, Midcity... all to varying degrees of success.

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