• June 15, 2017
The current underpass (left) and proposed art feature. Photo: Arun Jeram and Supplied / Auckland Council
Auckland pedestrians are about to be greeted by a new creature in the central city.
Construction is scheduled this month to turn the current Myers Park underpass into an artistic feature that resembles a taniwha.
The upgrade to the underpass, designed by artist Graham Tipene and architect Barrington Gohns, will include scales that move in the wind, and is part of the council’s long-term plan to revitalise the inner city.
Sam Snedden, business manager of the Basement Theatre which neighbours Myers Park, is pleased the council is changing the way it views urban planning.
“That [current] underpass is Auckland’s civic planning in a nutshell. The car is the only thing that matters. Pedestrians can get f**ked.”
“What the Waitemata local board is doing is good. To make [the underpass] into an architectural feature is a really good way of working with the car-centric layout that we’ve currently got and trying to make it more friendly for pedestrians.”
Auckland Council development manager Jenny Larking said the underpass upgrade is the third stage of the council’s plan to redevelop Myers Park to make it more useable.
“Prior to the work being done, it was quite a dingy, not very safe area.”
Mrs Larking hopes the upcoming upgrade will attract more people to use the park, which in turn will make the area even safer.
“By creating more activities, it increases the passive surveillance.”
Passive surveillance is the idea that the presence of passers-by helps deter criminal behaviour because there are more eyes to observe what is going on.
Mr Snedden also agrees that the first two stages of upgrades have already made Myers Park safer.
“There are people in there everyday now…whereas it used to be relatively deserted.”
The underpass upgrades will come at a cost however.
Nineteen pay-and-display car parks will be sacrificed to make room for the reconstruction.
But Mr Snedden is unconcerned there will be less parking available for theatre-goers.
“There are lots of things this square could be used for, and I think a car park ought to be pretty low down on that list.
“I’m in favour of anything that makes this area feel safer.”