Barry Curtis Park is the largest urban park to be built in New Zealand for over a century. The 100ha park has been masterplanned to closely integrate with the new town of Flat Bush, which by 2020 is planned to become a resilient, flexible and sustainable community of over 40,000 people.
Auckland Council's brief set ambitious objectives for social, environmental and economic outcomes to generate an urban form that was 'flexible such that it can adapt to the constantly changing values and pressures which shape our natural and physical environment' and would 'facilitate the establishment of a community that can celebrate its diversity and maximise opportunities for innovation'.
Drawing on extensive community consultation and a multi-disciplinary approach, innovative and integrative landscape forms and techniques were adopted to ensure that the park adapts and holds the resilience to support the landscape, ecology and cultures and economy of the area as population density increases.
To this end, the design merges distinctive park types, effectively nesting smaller parks within the larger whole. The masterplan combines the extensive recreational landscapes of a Regional Park (sports fields, festival lawn) with the green infrastructure systems of an Ecological Park (stormwater ponds, restored waterways) and then integrates the program of Neighbourhood Parks (playground, skatepark). Finally, the 'cultural axis', which extends from beyond the northwest corner of the park into the heart of the town centre, has the design intensity of an Urban Park and will directly connect with the new town centre.
The completed park is a bold layering of natural and cultural patterns that creates a unique experience of place. The topography, vegetation and man-made structures generate a contemporary contextual New Zealand design aesthetic. Landforms are inspired by local Māori defensive sites and volcanic cones, planting draws on local ecology and history and materials are informed by the local volcanic geology and landscape vernacular.
An innovative design, construction and management programme for the park has led to the emergence of new urban form, a public space typology that embodies the flexibility to meet the demands of a growing and evolving multi-cultural community.