Sunday, 6 November 2011

Three waters out-takes

Well the assignment is done and the map is complete, and I'm so stoked with it! Even showed it at work to the senior planners and they were blown away with it, looking at taking it to Watercare to see what they think.

The filming for the project itself was a lot of fun, even though it involved 100km of driving! But in true hollywood style, there were some out-takes and stuff ups, so here's a small collection of them as a sampler to the map. NOTE - please excuse a couple of swearwords!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Interactive mapping

A friend recently sent me this as an example of interactive mapping...
Basically readers of have been sending in their images of the Rena oil spill and the locations from where the pictures were taken, and then stuff has used googles maps to locate the pictures on a simple yet very effective. Check it out Rena interactive map.

I like this idea, that you can look at the big picture, yet as a user, interact with the map to see a close up aspect and feel like "you're there, in the moment at the location.

To incorporate this idea into my project, I'm going to use a similar "big picture aspect" to show the locations of various three-water infrastructure components, then use the software to zoom into various locations, and give the viewer an actual view of the infrastructure. It will probably be the case that the viewer will recognise the infrastrutcure, having driven or walked past it, and never realised it had anything to do with their water use.

I had a similar moment last week. I emailed the Council infrastructure people about the locations of outfall pipes. The helpful stormwater people sent me a link, explaining that there are literally THOUSANDS of these outfall pipes throughout Auckland...I only thought there were a few main ones!

So I made a quick snapshot of an area between Grey Lynn and Avondale, showing the patterns of the various infrastructure underneath us.
The green lines indicate the stormwater pipes, the red are the wastewater, and the blue are the freshwater pipes. I find the layout of the them interesting. The stormwater follows a more fluid pattern, following the waterways in the city. The blue is more aligned to the street networks (obviously to service the households), and the wastewater doesn't seem to have a set pattern, it cuts across properties and diverts away from main transport routes. I wonder what the reason is for that.

If you want to check it out for yourself, here's the link Auckland Council GIS site

Monday, 17 October 2011

Back in the game!

Sorry team, took a little unintentional break there from the water blogging world. But I'm back! And with a new vision for the project as it turns out.

The original idea had been to display all the controls around planning water on a map somehow. Buuuuut that proved to be too hard in the context of the assignment. So after a long hard think about what story of Auckland's water I really wanted to tell, 3 long blacks later I realised I wanted to tell THREE stories...because Auckland has three waters.

In previous projects, when I have tried to explain the concept of Auckland's three waters to innocent bystanders, I've been dismayed with the blank look I've received when the concept of wastewater, freshwater, and stormwater all being intrictaely linked through our actions, washes over them without necessarily being registered.

Yet, in our highly engineered lifestyle, our daily lives and routines are highly regulated, as well as highly regulate, the way in which water passes in and out of our lives almost seemlessly and invisibly. So I've decided to get this concept out there visually through my project. I think its important we all understand where our water comes from, where it goes, what happens to it, and all the little indirect contacts we have with water that impact it and its quality at different stages of this never ending water cycle we're part of.

Speaking of water cycles, so I've got back into researching and found this neat water cycle graphic. Its shows exactly the interactions we have with water that I want to map in my project.
Thank you "good" magazine for being such a rad source of all things sustainable

Right, back to the research.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Making the 'complex' accessible

"Mapping has emerged in the information age as a means to make the complex accessible" (Abrams, J. & Hall, P. (Eds). (2006) Where/Abouts. From Else/where: mapping new cartographies of networks and territories. p.12).

As a planner, one of the most complex parts of the job is understanding what the hell the district plan is trying to say. What can I do?...or can't do?....or might be able to do, if I plant this certain species of tree, in such-and-such a distance from a nationally significant long as my height to boundary ratio is correct (you get my drift).

So if I, a relatively well educated person professing to be a planner-wannabe, struggle to understand this complex and wordy document, how can the average, busy (and generally frustrated with the council) member of society interpret it? What I think needs to be invented, and what my project is intended to be, is a map that visualises this information in order to make interpreting this document easier. And even if my map doesn't leave the map reader with all the answers they need, it must at least enable the reader to be "capable of asking better questions" (Abrams, J. & Hall, P. (Eds). (2006) Where/Abouts. From Else/where: mapping new cartographies of networks and territories. p.14). Alongside this, the mapping project itself should help me question how democratic the district plan provisions are, and as I piece together the zoning provisions for water, ask what is missing?

Looking at the GeoDesign website, it gave me some ideas about how I could layer various information categories from the district plan onto my map. GeoDesign "is the interface between land use, census blocks, traffic patterns, air quality tables, and any other data set, on the one hand, and the process of building—site planning, conceptual design, programming, and construction drawings—on the other."

I found the article hugely interesting, especially as a concept for urban planner and architects. GeoDesign “..asks, ‘How can we use our buildings more effectively?’ and answers the question, ‘Do you need to build at all?’ As designers, we are often intuitive, but our decisions are not based on data. We don’t know the consequences. Geodesign allows architects to make decisions based on [impacts] such as water [use] and carbon output.” In his talk, Fisher said that geodesign could potentially forestall the kinds of housing development patterns that led to the recent economic crisis, and could help track food production and foresee possible shortages. The claims may sound omniscient, but they are rooted in real-life data."

Here's a basic example of GeoDesign -
That's all for now.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Too little too LATE...?

So on Thursday night I went to the Auckland Museum event "from a ripple to a swell", which was all about water stories in Auckland. It featured a panel of experts talking about water issues. Here's the overview...

"In association with The University of Auckland this LATE looks at the importance of New Zealand’s waterways and how we can raise awareness over the value of this vital natural resource.
Moderator Oliver Driver will lead a panel of academic experts who include ecologist Dr Marjorie van Roon, dance studies lecturer and writer Dr Alys Longley and marine scientist Professor John Montgomery. They will discuss issues around water sustainability and the different approaches being used to celebrate water and inspire change. "

I anticipated some insightful and creative solutions about how we could really effectively communicate Auckland's water issues to the public and raise their awareness and get them on board with solutions etc. Alas no such luck. The panel of experts were great and really went into the issues, but in terms of actual solutions, nothing was really specifically laid out. As I sat there I started to think more and more about why solutions weren't so easy to come up with. Why weren't the public sold on changing their water behaviour for a sustainable future? Why weren't Council's laying concrete and direct provisions that mandated sustainable water use and less pollution? Why wasn't the Government taking a harder line?

As I pieced this all together it dawned on me that really a huge barrier to what we try to do as planners is the public acceptance of our proposals. And what, more than anything, influences the public's opinion? THE MEDIA! How frequently are proposed Government policies poo-pooed by the media? How often do catchy headlines slander Council actions, all portraying the cost of the citizen or the ratepayer for what the Council intends to do? Even if the story that follows the headline may eventually tell both sides of the headline, it is nonetheless the headline that influences the public at large's opinion.

Here are some examples....

All images care of

Yes I admit this is a limited selection, but you get my drift.

So is there a way to get the media on board and convince them to be more responsible in their reporting? Well according to the LATE event's moderator Oliver Driver, the answer is no. "Sexy stories" as he put it, sell, and if there's no attention grabbing statement, no emotionally charged headline, then the paper doesn't sell and doesn't make its money. Ah, so capitalism wins again.
Hmm, so the alternative...counter-attack! If the paper won't properly educate and inform the audience, then planners and urban designers and politicians need to. Useful, interesting, interactive and easy to understand information in various forms and media are invaluable in getting the public on side and explaining to them what is proposed and why.

Which, pleasantly enough, is what this assignment is on. Good conclusion aye?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Who's place is it anyway?

The reading by Wortham-Galvin on the "mythologies of placemaking" gave me some interesting food for thought. It touched on the mainstream planning and design concept of creating this "sense of place" in spaces/communities/towns.

To create a "place", the creation needs to hold a sense of authenticity for people to identify with it and this is rooted not only in what is factual about a space, but what is believed to be true. As the author of the reading states, a discussion of a "place" reveals the mythologies about the ways we have made and enacted the built environment. And as people, we enact place for a variety of reasons, such as tradition, or to instill beliefs and values, or indeed rebel against institutional values.

So this got me to thinking. What place is Auckland trying to become? What vision are the rules, policies and regulations regarding water in the various planning documents trying to emulate? And what is the motive behind this vision? How are we "making" Auckland as a water "place"?

The author also comments that television and internet are now intricately intertwined in the expression and creation of place, so that increasingly people are experiencing place mentally as well as physically. Importantly this means that what people think, feel and say about a place is becoming highly influenced by what they experience in the virtual world, or what they are selectively show and told. Original conditions are becoming irrelevant as "places" are becoming detached from their context and being substituted with a new context. In the case of Auckland, I question what is this virtual water "place" that is being substituted for the original and existing conditions of Auckland's water network, and who is dictating the design of the substitute?

Attached is the link to Auckland's soon to be opened (this Saturday actually) Wynyard quarter development, the virtual video.
Ask yourself...
 - Does this showcase Auckland's water environment?
 - Does this "feel" like Auckland to me?
 - Would I want to come here and appreciate this "unique" Auckland experience?
 - Without all the people in the clip, how would this space feel?


Thursday, 28 July 2011

The topic is decided!

And so it is that this first time blogger and town-planner-wannabe has finally selected a topic...mapping how the controls, regulations and provisions of the Auckland City Council District Plan - Isthmus section, and the Auckland Regional Council Regional Plan, impact the way water is incorporated into the lives of Aucklanders. 

From experience, plans and their provisions are hard to interpret, so I will attempt to show spatially what the rules and regulations mean to different areas and water users across Auckland.

I'm then going to take a stab at predicting and portraying the future implications of these provisions, and will look at how these line up with what the Auckland Councils' intended future of water would look like.

And here. We. Go.