Mt Albert Station Re-design


A dynamic Mt Albert station entrance building and better transport links are part of a winning design chosen to greatly improve the village.

Unitec architecture masters student Brendan Scott-Woods, a former Mt Albert resident, included in his design for a revamped Mt Albert village centre a public plaza built over the Mt Albert train station on the corner of Carrington and New North roads to create more public space.

Brendan tells me he considers the area has a sorry state of neglect, which started when St Lukes expanded and left Mt Albert for dead.

I admire his idea for a pedestrian street, the clear bus lanes and the public transport-friendly feel to it.

He says it also needs some decent urban space. He proposes a paved plaza and a landscaped park, interlinked with some higher quality housing and mixed use buildings, as well as injecting some public interaction in the form of a new Library, and a dynamic station entrance building.

All this whilst trying not to knock down too much of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Students from Unitec AUT, and Auckland University participated in the contest, organised by local MP David Shearer.

Well done Brendan - and let’s hope they take your advice.
Let’s hope it happens.It would be awesome to get some changes made before the presently stalled St Lukes expansion goes ahead.
BTW, this is how the historic but tired New North /Carrington Rd area looked tonight:




  1. Chris says:

    Nice job Brendan. Hopefully Len Brown got to see the entries and will do a serious analysis on it. Good to see the pedestrian friendly spaces and the PT as the focal point of the area.

  2. William Ross says:

    Excellent work Brendan. Good timing with the new council and a few councillors who care about that area being elected. You have thought it out well and the public transport feel as Jon mentions really comes through.

  3. Mary says:

    As a long time local, this is wonderful news. Good point Jon. They must try to make some progress in improving it please before St Lukes gets the go ahead. We can’t let this potentially heritage village slump any more. As it gets more rundown, there are more menacing young people lurking around that bus stop which has stopped me using the buses.

  4. SJ says:

    A library there is a smart bit of Sim City’ing!
    Would that replace the St Lukes or be new??
    It would be an excellent community draw- card and a lot of old people live around there who would love it as well as the young and multicultured.

  5. Bryan22 says:

    Now that hopefully the Dominion Rd will be saved with its heritage villages after the last mad council’s late bid to impose T2 lanes,, we can get Mt Albert looking like the dynamic town it should be, one especially rich with Asian cultures, and stamp out St Lukes instead of giving in to it and as Brendan says letting it die.

    Good on you Brendan. I look forward to seeing more of your designs and thoughts of what should be done in Auckland. I hope you share those with us here. Good luck in your career.

  6. Andu says:

    Yaaay Mt Albert! Not such a bad area at all, loads of potential. Can’t wait to see improvements taking place in the town centre and train station, they are well overdue.

  7. Matt L says:

    Nice job, the one would like to see however is the whole train station covered over and that made into a public space, or perhaps that high rise built over the tracks and station.

  8. Nick R says:

    Great stuff Brendan, love the walkability, mixed uses and the measured application of density. Jane Jacobs would be proud!

    Where will the library be, in the new buildings closer to the station or back in the building on the corner where it once was?

    My only gripe would be the lack of a direct connection between the bus corridor on Carrington Rd and the train station. Mt Albert’s location makes it ideal for a major interchange between radial and lateral routes.

  9. max says:

    “Hopefully Len Brown got to see the entries”

    Len wasn’t there - I think the presenter explained it along of the difficulties involved when you are suddenly handed seven appointment books (from all the previous mayors)!

    However, David Shearer, Cathy Casey and a few other local notables were there.

    Some rather stunning projects amonst the entries, though most concentrated on non-traffic aspects (which is fair enough, the contestants were mainly architects and landscape architecture students, as well as urban designers too).

    “Hopefully Len Brown got to see the entries and will do a serious analysis on it. ”

    As I understand it, the contest was primarily supposed to generate new ideas and visions for the area, going forward. Hopefully, the new (formal) plans drawn up for the area’s future will retain some of those ideas (it’s all to easy to dumb them down later, especially if someone is standing in the back mumbling about the cost ;-)

  10. max says:

    “My only gripe would be the lack of a direct connection between the bus corridor on Carrington Rd and the train station. Mt Albert’s location makes it ideal for a major interchange between radial and lateral routes.”

    One design had a very interesting parks corridor winding its way from the train station all the way to Unitec / Carrington Road. Of course that would require a few properties to be acquired “on the way”, but a cool concept nonetheless.

  11. Brendan says:

    Thanks everyone for the positive feedback.
    There are a few things cropped off the images so to answer to some of those questions… the library would replace the St Lukes Library (I’m sure Westfield would love to buy that site) and be located at the north west of the plaza with its north side against Carrington road. There would be a strong diagonal pedestrian link across the plaza to the western end of the Carrington road overbridge. And Mary, I know what you mean, I got verbally abused by some of the “menacing young people” in the Video Easy carpark when taking photos. I’m not sure how to solve that issue though.

  12. Chris says:

    Once most of the roads leading into the CBD focus on pedestrians and public transport, we have a world class city, as the CBD will try play catch-up at the same time as the other developments.

  13. Mark Donnelly says:

    yes - there is enourmous potential here.
    It has a size and scale, combined with the rail station to be a wonderful TOD - and one that enhances a whole suburb.

    Mt Albert has suffered over the last 20yrs, but has all the right ingredients.

    proper development here, would enhance Unitec ie as a gateway to a 55ha facility, and also provide economic growth with mixed business use. I do think though we need to get planners away from thinking the answer is 4 storey apartments with retail at the bottom - we still need other businesses - the panelbeater /etc. This area could cater for all if zoned and designed well. Really does need a masterplan approach.

    Also landnaking and a more direct involvement fro Council. They can recoup holding costs from rents etc, and combine parcels.

    The design above and this approach, also protects the wonderful Mt Albert 1/4acre /heritage/matrure landscape values.

    i agree with one of the points above, that Mt Albert road routes should be developed, this extends the ped area for rail. I think also off road walking/cycling routes would enhance rail access and the area in general.

    this all needs to be in the 3-5yr time frame - and once a comittment is shown from Council, the private sector will respond.

  14. Luke says:

    I think the CBD tunnel will be the catalyst that allows the transformation to take place. WIth the current depressed property market I can’t see anything happening in a hurry and it is probably better waiting and spending more money to get a real good job done.

    Would be good to do a cheap and easy upgrade in the mean time for the station that will last 10 years.

  15. travis says:

    Wow, I cant believe what I just saw. Brendon you certainly have a bright future ahead of you. I believe that if a project like this gets a go ahead you would see large amounts of investment and economic activity happen close by. This would really brighten up what is a pretty scummy spot

  16. Norma says:

    Having studied the entries in detail, this was definitely one of the few well thought out designs with some really good ideas. Although I personally hate the high rises as I think they are out of scale with the suburban area, this was clearly a winner. Almost all of the other entries, although not lacking in imagination and design attributes, were so out there they would have been more suited to Dubai or Singapore than Mt Albert! As a long time resident of Mt Albert, what I hoped to see (and other residents I spoke to) was a design that took into account the ‘realities’ (economic, political, social, cultural, environmental etc) and still managed to provide us with a truly wonderful design that picked up on the ‘Mt Albert vibe’. That didn’t happen. The entries for the most part can only be termed visionary and/or aspirational.

    Although I realize this competition was largely a studio project and therefore subject to time constraints etc, I think it would have been so much better if the students had actually engaged in community consultation with residents and business owners (not just a few people from MARA etc). Perhaps they could have organized focus groups or a workshop and really got a feel for what residents and business owners of Mt Albert want and what could actually happen. I believe that for students to engage in community consultation/participation at the outset of their careers can only be beneficial for them and could over time go some way to hopefully changing the prevailing council/professional mindset towards community engagement that leaves so much to be desired.

  17. karl says:

    Norma - you wouldn’t be referring to (amongst others) the design that looked like a Star Destroyer from Star Wars sitting across Mt Albert?

    That was pretty cool - though I agree, more suited to a convention centre on Wynyard Wharf than to a town centre.

  18. Rene says:

    This is a nice treatment of the northern end of the Mt Albert shops area, but I cant help but think the the part of New North Road really needing work is those horrible old asian warehouse “barns” that are a complete eyesore not to mention have terrible impacts on traffic. I for one would love to see these huckery old buildings torn down and the land utlised more effectively.

    As a local resident I lament the lack of decent, retail, restaurants (other than chinse of which there are a million) and some good watering holes. At the moment I have to trudge up the hill to Kingsland.
    Mt Albert shops lack variety and the large amount of wasted space north of the BP is a crime.

  19. Norma says:

    @Karl - yes that was one of them but there were many others also. Cool designs but totally inappropriate for Mt Albert.
    @Rene - absolutely agree. I was surprised to see so few entries deal with this part. I would have thought this was the obvious area for redevelopment - 3-4 storey residential to allow for projected growth with some commercial/retail.

  20. Matt says:

    I got verbally abused by some of the “menacing young people” in the Video Easy carpark when taking photos. I’m not sure how to solve that issue though.

    There are these public employees, called police officers, whose job it is to deal with uncouth behaviour. If you get abused or threatened, call the cops. Eventually they’ll get sick of dealing with the same crowds of loiterers and start prosecuting.

    It’s minor, but it does a huge amount of damage to how an area feels. It also gives the offenders a feeling of power and invincibility if they can intimidate others without consequence. Don’t let them get away with it, because eventually it leads to less-social-still behaviour such as assault or mugging.

  21. karl says:

    “There are these public employees, called police officers, whose job it is to deal with uncouth behaviour. If you get abused or threatened, call the cops.”

    Matt, the fact is that once the cops arrive (if they do), it’s your word against that of (often) several of the youths. What’s the policeman gonna do? He knows that he can’t book them - especially not for verbal abuse and not even proof of it. So he’s wasting time.

    Verbal abuse and non-physical agression will be hard to combat. What these people need to be picked up on is any minor vandalism or physical things, and then be dealt with a short sharp shock. I don’t believe in long prison sentences late in a criminal’s career - I believe we should bring back lots of single nights in the slammer: You get picked up for something, like thrwing a bottle, you get an immediate sentence for the night, and instead of being out drinking and having fun, you sober up on a hard bench and get to tell your boss or your parents why you’re late the next morning. Early intervention, though but measured, gets people off the slow and crooked path to real criminality.

  22. Matt says:

    karl, the cops don’t have to do anything more than take names. Names end up in computers. Once they’re in computers, officers dealing with the miscreants in future can see that they’ve been dealt with in the past for unsociable behaviour.
    You don’t have to stick around. Just calling and saying that there’s a group of youths loitering and menacing passers-by will get some kind of response most of the time. For the cops it’s an easy win: “I’d like your name, address, date of birth, and occupation. Right, we’ve had a complaint about you being here, you don’t appear to have any legitimate purpose therefore you’re loitering, now bugger off.” Complaint dealt with, some names gathered for NIA, and a record begun of that name’s interactions with the cops.

    To take the attitude of “It’s not worth it” is to say “I can’t be bothered dealing with something that’s affecting my enjoyment of my neighbourhood.” That attitude is how we end up with crowds of scruffy yoof cluttering up the area and being obnoxious in the first place.

  23. karl says:

    Matt, I wasn’t advocating looking away - but I am not sure the cops would do what you just said they’d do. I’d expect them to be too busy - if they can’t even attend to burglaries in time, as many people complain…

    Maybe my perception is wrong, or maybe I am being too cynical.

  24. Jon C says:

    I got accosted by some young guys when i was taking the photos at Mt Albert. They aggressively asked for money. It seems a bad element hanging around there so another good reason to move on this.

  25. Matt says:

    karl, attending burglaries isn’t the same as attending anti-social behaviour. Different groups of people, different priorities. “I” cars are the ones that deal with in-progress incidents, which includes scruffy yoof menacing the locals. They don’t do burglaries, unless it’s happening right at that moment.
    One of the big problems the police have is that there’s no explanation that the people who come to do the investigation of your burgled house aren’t the same people who come when the local scruffy yoof start offering you the “choice” of giving them your money or getting a punch in the mouth. Taking days to get to burglaries doesn’t mean that you won’t get a car responding to reports of loitering or menacing behaviour. They’re prioritised differently, in part because anti-social behaviour is happening “right now” whereas burglaries are normally historic.

    Jon, that’s definitely something the police want to know about. Eventually they move on to breaking laws that have proper jail time as a penalty, such as assault with intent to rob, or robbery, and the cops prefer to deal with things before that stage.

  26. jeremy says:

    The competition:

    A nice exercise and it raised awareness (and Mr Shearers profile) but also raised expectations while not providing any practical solutions. Overall the intensive scale of designs were way out of proportion to what is a heritage area.

    The winner:

    The scale was too big and the district plan would not permit towers of this size.

    The plaza idea was nice and incorporating a library good to see.

    The towers will block out views of the Waitakeres and the city. Towers like this in the CBD are an eyesore with resident washing strung up on balconies.

    The high density towers and housing development as proposed will put even more pressure on local infrastructure.

    While the removal of the shabby apartments next to the railway line will be welcome, the winning design would mean a number of family homes including heritage bungalows and villas would be destroyed. A number of existing homes will be unlucky enough to be placed next to the new high rises and higher level intensive housing.

    There is no obvious improved connection to Unitec from the precinct in the winning design.

    The reality:

    Right now we need to focus on immediate solutions.

    We know what the immediate problem is - the landlords and the tenants - so what can we do to fix it. One of the student architects commented to me he could not believe the squalor, the potential for crime, and how council let the scale of development and resulting rubbish dumping and traffic levels around the shopping area and markets happen.

    It would be good to see as much time and effort going into cleaning up and looking after the precinct as went into the design competition. This includes enforcement from council.

    The markets do not have the same standards as supermarkets when it comes to storing and disposing rubbish.

    Is it possible to get the $ from council to employ Unitec landscaping students to design and plant in the precinct over the summer holidays.

    Getting the area clean and safe now is the most important objective right now. Renewing the precinct with improved design and restoration of heritage buildings will take longer but let’s do something practical now.

  27. Eggs says:

    This will never happen and even if it did there are alot more suburbs in Auckland which need to be upgraded before Mt Albert does.

    Why can’t you lazy bastards hop your ass’s on the bus and go to St Lukes it’s only down the road.

    Kia Ora

  28. Anthony says:

    @Eggs, have you even read this thread? Because it has much more POTENTIAL than other suburbs, ALSO, Len Brown, unlike other mayors of Auckland actually does approve on these kinds of improvement projects.

  29. [...] More of his designs here: [...]


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