Auckland: Unitary plan and the ambiguity of the Genius Loci – by Barbora Foerster

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photo by Mauro Caria

Why has the City Council of Auckland promoted the new Unitary Plan?

Let’s start with a simple syllogism.
The assumptions are that:

-Once again, this year, Auckland is one of three cities in the world with the highest quality of life.

-In New Zealand, traditionally, the proportion between public and residential architecture is heavily tilted in favor of the latter; and only 5% of the residences are designed by professional architects.

The consequence is that, as many claim, the architecture does not need neither architects nor planners.

However if you are visiting Auckland for the first time, you realize that the urban system is based on extremely favorable environmental conditions. With a latitude corresponding to the temperate zone, Auckland is one of the few cities in the world to have two bays that overlook two different oceans. With a natural temperature control system due to winds and seas, external environmental conditions and human comfort tend to overlap.

Auckland, ultimately, is not a city, but a large public park on the water on which a carpet of single-family homes was placed. Lagoons surrounded by mangrove and volcanoes covered with forests emerge from the urban carpet. Not surprisingly, the best known volcano is called Mount Eden.

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photo by Mauro Caria

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photo by Mauro Caria

Even if offering solutions for the housing shortage in New Zealand, the Unitary Plan finally indicates the soil as the main heritage to be preserved.

For this reason, the new urban rules essentially identify the delimitation of the metropolitan boundaries and the urban densification within it. It is a very innovative plan to New Zealand where the family home is part of the cultural identity.

However now the Kiwis have to choose between the villa with the garden and the Garden of Eden.

The local government delivered a simulator: everyone can create his own Auckland:


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