Ludo Campbell-Reid is Auckland Council’s first ever Design Champion. In this feature article under the theme of #cityIQ, Mr. Campbell-Reid shares Auckland’s story of transformation through design, leaving behind its reputation as a city of cars to a smart city that is using design to better serve its citizens.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, with a population of 1.5 million. It has one-third of the population of a small country and produces over 40% of the nation’s GDP. Its global position is far from our key markets.
Ludo Campbell-Reid’s presenation at the WDC 2014 Cape Town Design Policy Conference, October 2014
Auckland’s setting is a stunningly beautiful natural environment of coast, harbours and the landscape of a volcanic cone field. Auckland’s population is growing fast and is projected to reach 2.5 million by 2040.
For decades however, Auckland was held back by fragmented and competing governance structures, infrastructure deficits and poor quality urban design. Its city form and function catered more to cars than to people and with the highest ownership of cars per head of capita population in the world; it subsequently became dubbed “the city of cars”.
People also constantly bemoaned the ‘Auckland disease’ of short-termism and parochial disagreement. Auckland was clearly not meeting its potential. As Jan Gehl, one the world’s pre-eminent urban designers remarked: “Auckland was always the bad boy in the class”.
But in 2010, Auckland was thrown a lifeline. After a Royal Commission, history was created. The Auckland region’s eight councils were merged into one “super city” under a new Mayor, Len Brown.
Mayor Brown’s leadership has brought Auckland together like never before. His vision of transforming Auckland into ‘the world’s most liveable city’ is captured in a single comprehensive strategy, ‘The Auckland Plan’.
The Auckland Plan was developed in partnership with government, business, indigenous Māori tribes, non-government organisations and more than 15,000 Aucklanders. It is an integrated spatial and infrastructure plan for the next 30 years and combines economic, social, cultural and environmental goals. In record time, only 17 months after amalgamation, it was adopted in May 2012 and has since been the ‘guiding star’ for transformation, followed by all sectors. It guides the city’s investment, planning rules and psyche.