Lower Hutt welcomed 38 Massey University design students to answer that question. In November, the 3 week “Urban Camouflage” summer course tasked them with creating concepts for the space at Andrews Avenue. The space would connect the city to the river before the major revitalization project, RiverLink. It would also enable it to be more attractive for use by people that work and live in Lower Hutt.
Now the Lower Hutt community will be able to see the outcome of that work. A refreshed Andrews Avenue will be closed to cars from Monday 3 February to Tuesday 31 March.
The space will include local artists painting a mural over the duration. There will also be the Sound Bites lunchtime music concerts every Friday, and lots of seating for urban picnics in the city. You’re encouraged to pop down and see the space as it transforms. If you are interested in helping liven up the space, please contact Hutt City Council.
The project brought together many partners to learn how to recreate the space using a placemaking approach.
The Southend Business Group led the effort. They put forward an idea to Hutt City Council in 2019 to activate the south end of High Street. Michael Gray, owner of Buzz Cafe, has been the forefront of this business movement for the area. The group are keen for the area to become a magnet for people. “Bringing in young and enthusiastic minds will encourage new ways of thinking about a space that has lagged in attracting people to use it”, he said.
The students presented twenty-two ideas to a panel of field experts and spectators at the end of November. Students spent time in the space, meeting and talking with people they encountered and gathering feedback. This ensured their design ideas would have real life relevance to the community. Using art, lighting and projection in their design ideas showcased many ways to bring the space to life and be interactive.
From those projects, two were chosen to further create a plan to put them in place at Andrews Avenue. Naomi Riegger and Molly Hunter designed the first project, named RERE. Rere is a Māori verb meaning to fly about, to flow, to sail. This was fitting for a space that often encounters high winds.
They wanted to embrace the wind and chose pinwheels to represent the flow of the river and the force of the wind. RERE uses gabion frame walls that will run through Andrews Avenue. The colourful pinwheels attached to the walls will harness the wind, creating a moving work of art.
RiverLink events from February to May will also make use of these pinwheels.
Jess Aitken and Sian Feeney designed the second project, Nature to City CycleWay . Their focus on movement drew them to cycling and the Hutt River Trail on the edge of Andrews Avenue. They wanted to position it as a hub for cyclists. Their design looks into the future of the street and how it could be transformed over time to have a focus on cycling more than cars. It creates opportunities for a healthy lifestyle and a connection to nature, all while connecting the city to the river.
Hutt City Council are partnering with RiverLink, Active in the Hutt and local businesses to make this space part of Cycle in the Hutt activities.