Karori Town Centre: Public Space Improvement Project

Creating attractive, comfortable and sheltered spaces in the town centre’s Library Square and England Lane for people to enjoy.

Project work involves three areas:

  1. The Library Square – we aim to create an attractive, comfortable and sheltered space in front of the library and by the café.
  2. England Lane – we want to improve people’s accessibility as they move around the town centre. People will find better access to and visibility of the Community Centre, the Arts and Craft Centre and the Recreation Centre.
  3. A thin section of the car park in front of the Karori Community Centre (KCC) – the connection of the lane will extend to the KCC entrance, improving pedestrian connections across the car park. The conditions of the disabled parks will be taken over for better accessibility as well.

During the concept design phase, we proposed the improvement of the Parkvale Road / Karori Road intersection. This has been removed from the current scope of the Public Space Improvement project pending public consultation on the Safer Speed Programme to be held in 2020.

Artist impression of the developed design. For illustrative purposes only, may be subject to change.

Artist impression of redevelopment of Karori town centre.

Artist impression in preliminary design. For illustrative purpose only, may be subject to change.

Current status: design phase 2019-2020

While the last few months have been devoted to the development of the concept, the preliminary design, and the developed design, the Council’s Urban Design Team is now working with consultants on the detailed design.

The design focuses on the four shifts that Karori residents envisioned for their community:

  • Living green – bringing nature into the city through ecological values.
  • Connected – provide better pedestrian circulation within Karori and improve its connection with the city centre.
  • Magnet – attracting people in Karori as a destination and offering the town its own unique identity.
  • Daytime economy – supporting the local businesses.

Landscape architects, water sensitive design specialists, lighting designers, civil and structural engineers, will apply three recognised design principles:

  • Water sensitive design – to better manage stormwater.
  • Wildlife habitat design – to protect and provide shelter and better movement to wild life.
  • Heritage interpretation.

Urban design principles that protect and improve the natural environment

Water sensitive design

The resilience of our cities is at the heart of our concerns. Karori suffers overflows in the stormwater network during heavy rains, and the best way to remedy this is natural and controlled stormwater management in parallel with ecology, community values and best practice urban design principles.

Benefits of water sensitive design:

  • Nature can integrate with urban design and bring balance to densification.
  • Respect for the environment. Every action, big and small counts and can make a difference.
  • Reduce reliance on the stormwater network with natural processes that allow water to be absorbed within the site.
  • Improved water quality and monitoring of pollution rates.
  • Natural water treatment options such as raingardens, permeable materials, smart slope management, and plant species that are beneficial to the environment.

Wildlife habitat design

Built in the hollow of the valley, surrounded by green hills and local wildlife, Karori is sensitive to change and urbanization. Modern development, including roads, tree felling, fences, and walls restrict the movement of wildlife.

Excessive night-time lighting also negatively impacts animal behaviour, especially that of nocturnal animals.

These principles consider ways to protect wildlife within the town centres:

  • Connect and enhance habitats that predate Karori’s built environment to promote safe movement.
  • Bring the natural landscape of the surrounding hills into the heart of Karori with native plants.
  • Favour urban interventions that promote non-slippery pervious surfaces and natural insect shelters to increase the potential for wildlife (and people) to move around and feel safer doing so.
  • Use street lighting that is respectful of the movements of nocturnal wildlife.

Heritage interpretation

Karori’s name means “the rope of bird snares” in te reo. It refers to the hunting of birds before urbanisation took off around the 1840s. 

The town centre once had an abundance of bird life, especially around the Karori Stream, which is piped underground today. With the stream now hidden, our memory and the location of it has faded.

As an important natural element of Karori’s past, it’s worth acknowledging the stream’s existence with materials and/or artwork marking its location. It’s a great reminder of the suburb’s pre-urbanized state and that nature was once a visible feature.

An artists rendering of what the new Library square will look like.

Artist impression in concept design. For illustrative purposes only, may be subject to change.

Public engagement 2018-19

From August 2018, the Urban Design Team had met with and gathered feedback from the public and Karori residents. They formed a small working group to come up with ideas that would enhance and support “Karorians” way of life.

The collaboration took place over four workshops. The group comprised Karori residents from a diverse range of ages, genders, families, associations and trades.

March 2019 marked the end of the public engagement and consultation process when the group met to talk about the three recognised design principles: water sensitive design, wildlife habitat design and heritage interpretation.

About the project

This project builds on the work from the 2017 Karori Plan which established four ‘shifts’ to take Karori from where it is now to where it should be.

For more information, see: Karori Town Centre development.

Consultants Team

  • Landscape Architects: Local Collective
  • Civil and Structural Engineers: Calibre
  • Water Sensitive Designers: Morphum Environmental
  • Lighting Designers: Stephenson & Turner
  • Quantity Surveyers: Rider Levett Bucknall

Further work

The Council are also exploring other ways to create a vibrant town centre. Karori Town Centre development projects include:

We will provide more detail as it becomes available.

More information

Urban Design team
Phone: 04 499 4444
Email: ud.karori@wcc.govt.nz