As Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets for People programme gains momentum across Aotearoa, we‘ve been reflecting on our local journey and the ability to experiment, be agile and adapt to redesign our spaces better for people.

Lower Hutt secured funding for two Innovating Streets for People projects, the Knights Road Connection project and the Jackson Street project.

These projects are designed to use fast tactical urbanism approaches to change our streets to make them more people friendly, safer and liveable spaces. The approach is learning through doing, using trials and activations to help people think of their streets differently.

Changing the way we think and move about our public spaces means focusing strongly on altering the status quo.  Through rapidly changing these spaces for people, we safely experiment with new ideas and ways of working together.   

One of the key learnings and challenges through the ‘learn by doing’ approach is getting the balance between community participation and decisions on locally led solutions. Redesigning our spaces means rethinking how they are used and function, with the end goal being a space that works better for more people. Within this approach are the complexities of balancing the needs of the wider community compared to the impact on individuals or households, a whole spectrum of views on who our public spaces are for and how they should be used, along with different levels of readiness for change.  These factors influence what can be reasonably achieved to deliver local solutions. 

Who defines the issues and how they are defined is as important as the shaping of solutions. 

The ability to be adaptable has played a key role in each of the Auaha Evolving Spaces projects.  The constant reflection and learning throughout this journey has been fundamental to the way of working.

Being able to be agile and pivot to respond in real time to the environment, whether it is physical changes to the spaces being created or adjusting community engagement levers is what ‘learning by doing’ is all about.  This is how, together, we rethink our spaces, refine our practice and create the change we need.

Imagine if our city was designed for children, where they felt safe to walk, cycle and play.