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Urban Estuaries


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  • Sustainability Award of Excellence — 2013
  • Visionary Landscape Award — 2013
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One of the responsibilities of Auckland City Council’s Stormwater Unit is the health of Auckland’s waterways. Recognising the contamination of the Whau and Tamaki Estuaries, the stormwater unit engaged Jasmax in collaboration with terrestrial and coastal ecologists (Coast & Catchment) and hydrological and environment engineers (PDP Ltd) to undertake design research into possible solutions for the systemic degradation of these waterways.

Research by design is a process that couples traditional research practices utilising empirical data with creative process that explore speculative design responses. This work, led by landscape architect Gary Marshall, produced 22 concept designs that explored ways of intervening in the near shore and tidal area to capture and store sediment 
and contaminants for removal from estuarine environments. The techniques ranged from intensive interventions, such as damming of upper creeks through to low tech interventions that sought to utilise on-site materials such as slashed and thatched mangroves.

Additional concepts leveraged the successional process of colonising vegetation and the filtering characteristics of mollusks were also explored. At the same time it aimed to increase resilience to effects such as climate change as well as maximising outcomes for native wildlife and the local community through integration of recreational, aesthetic and amenity values. 

As a technical publication, this work demonstrates how design thinking can inform fields of research that have traditionally been the domain of engineers and scientists. The resulting Urban Estuaries Report has been recognised for its innovative approach, and has been adopted as Council best practice.

Client: Auckland City Council

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