Hutt at Heart

Creating people-friendly spaces in the Lower Hutt CBD

The Southend Business Group welcomes back Massey University’s “The Living Lab” Pop-up Campus for social interventions through the design course – Urban Camouflage.

For three weeks this November, 20 students will work from a pop-up campus to look at what types of interventions and placemaking methodology could be used to design spaces in Lower Hutt to make them more fun and attractive for people to use.

The students will look at two locations in High Street that align with the Southend Business Group’s (SEBG) plan of action – to activate the south end of High Street.

Michael Gray, owner of Buzz Café and forefront in the business movement for the area, knows the benefit of having the area become a magnet for people.

“We are jumping at the chance to involve young and enthusiastic people to encourage new ways of thinking and attracting people to use these two spaces – whether it is for enjoying lunch or attending events. It’s a great opportunity.”

Senior Lecturer Mark Bradford of Ngā Pae Māhutonga Wellington School of Design at Massey University in Wellington is excited to bring The Living Lab Pop-up Campus to Lower Hutt.

“This course asks design students to use a ‘placemaking’ approach in a real-life project to collectively reimagine and improve the public experience of a space.

“As part of their assignment students spend time in the space, meeting and talking with people they encounter and gathering feedback. The students will then present ideas to a panel of field experts at the end of the course and from those ideas a plan will be finalised.”

In 2019 The Living Lab transformed Andrews Avenue into an open space for people to enjoy summer, making it a flexible place to meet friends, have casual work meetings, or as a reading or live music location.

As a result there was a 30% increase in people using it over the 6 weeks it was activated. While the space was not for everyone, there was evidence of interest in spaces where people could relax away from their work spaces and as more residential units are built in the CBD, more of these publicly available spaces will be needed. These temporary interventions will allow us to find the right solutions for these two public spaces to beautify, to be useful and to be safe for our wider Lower Hutt community.

If you are interested in the south end of High Street; we want to hear from you. We are interested in hearing about your experiences and stories, whether they are memories from ‘back in the day’ or an experience you had yesterday.

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