A road no longer runs though it – that’s just one of the things we’ll be able to say about Freyberg Square if the council’s proposal to upgrade it and the adjacent Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Hall goes ahead. This is great news as both the square and the hall are well used despite being a bit run down, an upgrade on both are well overdue.
I think it is also good that both the hall and the square are being upgraded at the same time and integrated together. The upgrade to the ground hall will see the ground floor become a flexible community space. Combined with the removal of the road which clumsily bisects the square and which offers little to the overall transport network the works should enable the area to perform much better as a people space.
The work will also tie in nicely with the fantastically upgraded O’Connell St by way of extending the shared space south partly though Courthouse Lane. This section of Courthouse lane itself will further be changed by only allowing traffic to travel uphill towards Albert Park meaning we will no longer see cars travelling at speed downhill. It should also mean a reduction of vehicles that need to travel down O’Connell St as currently O’Connell St is the only option for drivers who come down Chancery St. Of course all this work will once again serve to highlight how poor the environment in High St is.
In total the upgrade is expected to cost around $7 million with it being paid for by the Waitemata Local Board and the City Centre Targeted Rate.
Here’s are the overarching design objectives for the projects
- the design of Freyberg Square as a world-class place that is a distinctive, safe and popular destination, where locals and visitors choose to frequent and linger
- creating a community facility within the central city with greater user flexibility
- providing greater pedestrian priority and connectivity and a more usable and child-friendly public realm
- providing better pedestrian connectivity between Freyberg Square and the surrounding network of streets
- creating a high quality, attractive and durable public open space that contributes to a sustainable and maintainable city centre
- designing an improved integration between Freyberg Square and the Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Hall, to create a vibrant inner city hub which will become the community and cultural heart of the city
- enhancing and redeveloping the Pioneer Women’s building while maintaining the heritage of the building and meeting current seismic and building codes
- creating a versatile and fully accessible community centre that can be configured to accommodate a greater number of uses and users
- honouring Ellen Melville and pioneering women of New Zealand, and continuing to honour Lord Freyberg
And some images of what’s proposed (click to enlarge)
Aerial perspective view of Pioneer Women’s & Ellen Melville Hall and Freyberg Square showing the removal of the Freyberg Place roadway to create an integrated public space and community hall. Concrete seating terraces and steps extend up the bank towards the Metropolis, interspersed with native tree and shrub plantings and an interactive water feature, creating a destination public space in the city.
Plan view of the Pioneer Women’s & Ellen Melville Hall and Freyberg Square showing the removal of the Freyberg Place roadway to create a fully pedestrianised public space with seamless integration between the upgraded community hall and square. Stone paving, public seating and native street trees create a pedestrian prioritised environment in Courthouse Lane, with vehicular traffic restricted to one-way traffic up-hill towards Albert Park.
This view from Courthouse Lane shows the re-instated verandah and relocated glazing line set back 3 metres from the columns, which honours the heritage of the building and better connects the building with Freyberg Square. The entrance is reinstated under the verandah, providing a more generous and welcoming foyer. The original brick wall is re-instated, reflecting the heritage of the original design.
This view over Freyberg Square shows how the removal of Freyberg Place roadway and the upgraded building will enhance the interface with Freyberg Square, creating a visual and permeable connection allowing the building to flow out in to the square and activities in the square to flow in to the building. There placement of the building’s current blue glass to a cast glass similar to that used originally, combined with the use of a lighter, warmer material palette will create a more inviting community facility.
This view shows how the proposed ‘Urban Living Room’ will help integrate the building in to the local context, encouraging activation of the spaces and interest in the community facilities available. This flexible ground floor community space can be re-configured to suit various activities such as conferences, market stalls and art exhibitions.
Overall it looks like a great upgrade that appears to really add to the area. Your move High St retailers.
The consultation is open to Sunday 27 September and there are details on the consultation page about public sessions on the plans that are available.