Ponsonby Park - our civic space

LandLAB has designed a flexible and vibrant space that meets the needs of the community, now and into the future.

Safety is fundamental to the creation of any successful public open space. ‘Ponsonby Park’ will be a highly visible and welcoming civic space that is overlooked by both neighbours and passersby. ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design’ principles are invested in the design.

The repurposed section of the building fronting the space has activity at street level. Additionally, ‘Ponsonby Park’ is surrounded by existing active users such as shops and cafes, as well as having two street frontages. This provides passive surveillance of the space from passing pedestrians, shoppers and residents, as well as making the civic space a prominent landmark within Ponsonby.

The use of pedestrian access-ways enables the building to front the open space and generate activity through foot traffic, whilst the existing passive surveillance by neighbours is maintained. 'Ponsonby Park' will be a safe and welcoming civic space.

The design is for a flexible and adaptable open space that will meet the changing needs of the community. The land is used efficiently by creating open spaces of a regular shape and relatively equal proportions. This enables the clustering of activities that use these facilities thereby ensuring infrastructure can be shared and the space can be used throughout the day.

Variations in materials and terrain add interest and opportunities for creative play experiences and a wide range of activities in the relatively small, but multi-use areas.

The ‘Ponsonby Park’ civic space can be activated in many different ways and at different times of the day. Consideration of how activities may interact with the neighbouring properties has been included to ensure the open space can be used to its full potential. Transition spaces are incorporated to interface between public and private areas, to balance neighbour privacy and the need for passive surveillance of the site. Screening plantings are utilised to ensure an adequate buffer between the actively used areas of the park and the private areas of neighbouring residential properties.

The LandLAB design also builds towards a neighbourhood connecting green parks, open spaces and lively streets that together deliver a variety of recreation, ecological, transport, and improved health outcomes. The design provides opportunities for movement of people and fauna, as well as helping balance the built and natural environments.

There are also opportunities to leverage benefit from the ongoing AT network infrastructure projects underway on Ponsonby Road (the raised traffic tables, curbside build-outs, etc). Integrating the civic space with the adjoining street to create larger spaces will add further vibrancy to the area around the intersection of Ponsonby Road and O’Neill Street. The option for a potential laneway linkage to Tole Street, through the repurposing of an existing urban asset, would also enhance the connectivity of the area. This aspect of the design is not currently within the brief of the project, being privately owned land. However, it has been presented as an additional option worth considering by all parties.

Open space is part of the core infrastructure that people need in a community. The proximity of the ‘Ponsonby Park’ civic space, with its associated sightlines, plus the introduction of new way-finding and walking destination/distance signs, will link it to all other nearby open spaces. This will make it both easier and more enjoyable for people to walk, cycle and exercise. It will also enable the activation of nearby 'hidden gems' like Tole Park by directing visitors to the specialist facilities there. Additionally, the creation of a school route cycleway, that utilises the connection of the parks and open spaces, could also be used as a recreational circuit for walking, running and cycling.

The streetscape planting will connect habitat, enhance ecological connections and visually connect the open spaces.

Being bordered on one side by Ponsonby Road and already having good public transport connections, the ‘Ponsonby Park’ civic space will be able to accommodate events and other attractions that will draw large numbers of visitors to our area - but without the usual traffic congestion and parking problems. The provision of a direct, high-quality connection through the beautiful ‘Ponsonby Park’ to neighbourhood destinations such as shops, schools, public transport routes and other parks, will also encourage active transport options (cycling, walking, etc) in the area.

Mitigating intensification
The ‘Ponsonby Park’ civic space also allows for greater urban density. High-quality open space contributes to vibrant and prosperous town centres by creating more livable urban places that support the development of a compact city.

Ponsonby is already an area of high-density development and quality open space provides the necessary amenity for this. Ponsonby is also a nearby destination for the many thousands of high-density residents within the Auckland CBD. They need recreation and social opportunities to be accessible through the creation of high quality spaces that provide for their needs, as well as for the needs of future communities.

The development of the ‘Ponsonby Park’ civic space in Ponsonby’s urban centre will offer a range of experiences such as: events, play, respite and meeting spaces. With universal design principles of inclusivity further ensuring the open space is accessible to everyone, ‘Ponsonby Park’ will be a great asset for not only the local community but also wider Auckland. (JENNIFER WARD)

Ref: Open Space Provision Policy 2016 - Auckland Council.