A design-led city story. Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau) New Zealand

Auckland Design Office, Ludo Campbell-Reid
Auckland Design Office
Publication date:

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, with a population of 1.5 million. It has one-third of the population of a small country and produces over 35 per cent of the nation’s GDP. Its global position is far from our key markets.

Auckland’s setting is a stunningly beautiful natural environment of coast, harbours and the landscape of a volcanic conefield. These natural advantages and abundant resources resulted in the area being of great historic importance as one of the most densely populated and contested places within Aotearoa (New Zealand). The traditional name for Auckland ‘Tāmaki Makaurau - the place desired by many,’ remains highly relevant as Auckland continues to be

New Zealand’s city and region of choice for people to live, work, play, prosper and to migrate to. Auckland’s population is growing fast and is projected to reach 2.5 million by 2040.

For decades however, Auckland was held back by fragmented and competing governance structures, infrastructure deficits and poor quality urban design. Its city form and function catered more to cars than to people and with the highest ownership of cars per head of capita population in the world; it subsequently became dubbed “the city of cars.”

People also constantly bemoaned the “Auckland disease” of short-termism and parochial disagreement. Auckland was clearly not meeting its potential. As Jan Gehl, one the world’s pre-eminent urban designers remarked: “Auckland was
always the bad boy in the class.” But in 2010, Auckland was thrown a lifeline. After a Royal Commission, history was created. The Auckland region’s eight local authorities were merged into one “super city” under a new Mayor, Len Brown.

Mayor Brown’s leadership, together with the Deputy Mayor, the Councillors, the Independent Māori Statutory Board members and Local Board members, have brought Auckland together like never before. The vision of transforming Auckland into “the world’s most liveable city” is captured in a single comprehensive strategy, “The Auckland Plan.”

The Auckland Plan was developed in partnership with government, business, indigenous Māori, non-government organisations and more than 15,000 Aucklanders. It is an integrated spatial and infrastructure plan for the next 30 years and combines economic, social, cultural and environmental goals. In record time, only 17 months after amalgamation, it was adopted in May 2012 and has since been the “guiding star” for transformation, followed by all sectors. It guides the city’s investment, planning rules and psyche.

See also

Auckland Design Manual

Last updated: 2019-05-07