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Auckland city waterfront and urban regeneration

Auckland Waterfront CEO John Dalzell says prescriptive frameworks determine future waterfront development, including award-winning Wynyard Quarter

Opening up the waterfront while retaining key industries architecture, building, city, daytime, metropolitan area, recreation, sky, town square, urban area, urban design, gray
Opening up the waterfront while retaining key industries has been a major focus for Waterfront Auckland.

Auckland is known as the City of Sails and the city is, in many ways, defined by its harbours and water-based activities. It's not surprising, therefore, that the waterfront is held incredibly close to many Aucklanders' hearts.

And with the CBD located right on the water's edge, the waterfront deserves particular attention and creative thinking to realise its potential as a key social, environmental and economic component of the city.

Waterfront Auckland recognises that we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform the city by regenerating this strategically important area in a holistic, complementary and sustainable way.

To meet this goal, we have established a number of frameworks, in consultation with our local communities. These ensure that we have clearly defined outcomes that we aim to achieve with the help of key partners, including the property industry.

Right from the outset, Waterfront Auckland has believed that all of us involved in the process need to challenge ourselves and the way we have traditionally approached urban development. By being very clear about our outcomes, in particular the need to create vibrant, diverse and sustainable urban communities, we have completely inverted the normal developer focus.

Traditionally, such outcomes are secondary to profits. But we have thrust them to the fore. These outcomes need to be the focus of every development. We are targeting developers who share our vision those who want to be part of an exciting future creating sustainable, liveable and lively urban communities.


Wynyard Quarter, developed by Auckland Waterfront, has won architecture, building, city, facade, mixed use, neighbourhood, town, urban area, black
Wynyard Quarter, developed by Auckland Waterfront, has won three international awards. In each competition, the judges praised the way key waterfront industries have been retained in the development of the vibrant urban precinct.

Land trade-offs for smart precinct initiatives

We see these outcomes as a minimum standard, and are prepared to make trade-offs if the market chooses to innovate and go beyond our established framework. For example, we anticipate trading off land value for smart precinct initiatives that achieve these objectives and show a good cost-benefit ratio. This is something Waterfront Auckland is currently evaluating. If we are comfortable with a proposal, we form a special partnership with a developer whereby we share the risk and the reward. As shown to date with the developers engaged for a mixed-use development on a 3.5ha site in the centre of Wynyard Quarter, this means we share in the success and receive incremental returns, rather than a single, one-off payment for the purchase of the land.

Such partnerships are rare in other countries, not just in New Zealand. In fact one would struggle to find any examples of this in Australia. We studied global best practice and visited Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, USA and Canada, and it became clear we are pioneering a new vision for urban regeneration. We can see that adapting this approach sits well in this operating environment.

To progress such an initiative with a developer there needs to be a broad alignment on philosophy. We look for partners who agree on the bigger issues, which have a cascade effect every decision right down to the small details is based on achieving those key outcomes.

Waterfront Auckland has been challenged on its framework, with some people suggesting we are "too prescriptive". But we are already talking to developers and getting alignment on our philosophies and principles. And the resulting proposals we are seeing go way beyond our prescribed minimum standards, which is incredibly exciting.

Innovative approach rewarded

Auckland Waterfront chief executive John Dalzell says the city, downtown, neighbourhood, urban area
Auckland Waterfront chief executive John Dalzell says the organisations progressive approach toward urban regeneration has seen Wynyard Quarter win three international awards.

In the eight years since it was established, Waterfront Auckland has earned a reputation for innovation it has never just been "business as usual". We were one of the first organisations in the country to adopt integrated reporting, which identifies our capital our environment, assets, intellectual capital, people and relationships and takes an holistic overview of our business, carefully analysing how we do what we do.

Our emphasis on creating vibrant, sustainable, mixed-use communities is reflected in the success of the Wynyard Quarter development, which has won three international awards recently.

The two most recent awards, announced at the end of September, include the Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize. This was presented to our landscape architects on the project, Taylor Cullity and Lethlean (Melbourne) and Wraight and Associates (Wellington and Auckland) at the International Biennial of Landscape Architecture in Barcelona. Wynyard Quarter also won the Best Waterfront Project Award at the International Society of City and Regional Planning congress held in Gynia, Poland.

All of the judges in these awards have noted the successful way the existing industrial elements on the waterfront have been retained, and how these businesses engage the public and contribute to the success of the thriving urban community.

None of these awards has occurred by accident. A lot of careful thought went into establishing the physical and social infrastructure necessary to create such a community. And the success can be also be attributed to the "buy-in" of everyone involved, from the board and shareholders to our precursor agency Sea + City and Auckland Council.

The challenge now is to sustain this momentum and incorporate the approach that has been so successful in Wynyard Quarter into the revitalisation of the rest of the public parts of the waterfront and city centre.

Story by: Trendsideas

30 Oct, 2014