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Riddiford Gardens and Civic Park, Lower Hutt

Isthmus Group Ltd

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  • NZILA Category Winner / Parks — 2019
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Isthmus were commissioned by HCC to develop the Masterplan that set out a vision for a vibrant urban park that would restore civic pride to the heart of the Hutt. Run in parallel with the redevelopment of the Administration building and Horticultural Hall, the Masterplan reimagined the Gardens as a place to celebrate the heritage and contemporary culture of the community. The plan tied into the wider Making Places strategy aimed towards long-term advancement of the Lower Hutt CBD.

We worked closely with HCC officers and councilors, mana whenua, key stakeholders and the community through a series of workshops to establish a cohesive set of objectives for the project. Not surprisingly, the community placed great value on many of the existing natural and cultural features of the gardens, while also wanting to move forward to create a contemporary, accessible urban park for all.

The design began by creating a clear movement structure through the gardens that connected the different character areas and interfaced more positively with the surrounding buildings. A clear hierarchy of primary, secondary and tertiary paths emerged. Onto this structure we developed an overlapping sequence of amenity spaces and new and restored attractions that would welcome people of all ages into the Gardens.

The restoration of the Opahu Stream that flows through the Gardens became an important touchstone for the whole landscape experience, and gives the Gardens a locally distinctive sense of place.

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Judges Citation:
Riddiford Gardens and Civic Park is an extensive and beautifully implemented urban park, which has re-energised the civic heart of Lower Hutt City. Guided by an overarching landscape masterplan, the project has successfully evolved over a 3-stage phased implementation.

The collection of contemporary spaces have been effectively woven into an established landscape framework, provided by the modernist civic architecture, Opahu Stream and significant mature trees. The success of each phase of the project has built community and political momentum for on-going redevelopment. Each space with the Gardens and Civic Park caters for a broad range of users, and different activities including commemoration, active recreation, play, and botanical display.

Image: uploads/2019_09/LowerHuttSels_1728_DS8_4627.jpg

The judging panel particularly appreciated the new civic plaza, providing a new space for people to gather and specifically catering for the youthful members of the Lower Hutt community. The meticulous detailing and consistency of quality materials was evident in the pavement, furniture and water feature elements. These establish continuity across the project and successfully tie together the old and new. A diverse and interesting planting design combining natives and exotics add richness and sits comfortably alongside the hard landscape. This provides not only a functional response but a clever botanical experience.

The judging panel were impressed with how the Riddiford Gardens and Civic Park project has breathed new life into Hutt City. The client and landscape architects have undertaken a strategic redevelopment and refocusing of the existing public park and garden space to create a contemporary urban park for all locals and visitors.

Client: Hutt City Council

Company: Isthmus

Internal collaborators
Andrew Norriss, Wade Lipsham, Lisa Rimmer, Tessa Macphail, Nada Stanish, James Patullo, Haylea Muir, Ralph Johns, Blair Brixton, Dan Males

External collaborators
HCC

Key contractors
Naylor Love