Creating a Third Place at Wai Te Whau
Kolar Nagabhushan, Nikitha
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This thesis investigates the potential for civic infrastructure to deliver more to local communities. As part of the Muddy Urbanism Research Lab 2021, this thesis uses the Te Whau pathway (currently under phased construction in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland) as a location to test the capacity of multifunctional infrastructure to deliver a range of public needs, while also acting as a catalyst for local placemaking. Drawing on theories of ‘Placemaking’ and Ray Oldenburg’s ‘theory of third places’ and by developing a strategy of layering, the thesis asks, what is the capacity for the design of adjacent infrastructure to capitalize on Te Whau pathway and “How can this infrastructure be multi-functional where people not only pass through but also choose to-be?” The research is carried out at two scales through two case studies: The first is a small-scale test design project for a public toilet located alongside Te Whau Pathway that identifies the immense potential of ordinary civic infrastructure to deliver multiple layers of amenity from drinking bowl for pets to wind protection and shade to a wide range of users. This illustrates the thesis contention, that any infrastructure can and should operate at scale between the very small and large. The second tests the findings of the small-scale project but at a larger scale and with a more complex set of programmes through the design of a bus interchange. The opportunity to synergize on the footfall that transit-oriented development receive and the unique site that the project sits in between the pathway and river-based activities is tested through the lens of multi-infrastructure, acting physically, socially and economically to generate a dynamic public realm for locals. The thesis question is answered through this process of design testing and finds that the design of civic infrastructure for transport provides an opportunity for ‘Placemaking’ to generate ‘Third Places’.