Shared Space Looks Awesome


We can now get a glimpse of how the Shared Space concept works -and it is very pedestrian friendly and makes a complete difference.
It looks awesome.
The Darby St space cost $2.3m and it’s now functional. Imagine when more of the CBD looks like this:

Now the CBD’s Darby St is virtually finished as a shared space Lorne and Kitchener are next and work continues on the stage one of the Shared Space in Fort St.
The first stage of the $23m Fort St project, covering Fort Street (between Queen Street and Commerce Street), Jean Batten Place, Fort Lane and lower Shortland Street will be completed by August.
Around the corner from Darby, Elliot Street is now closed. That project doesn’t finish until early 2012.

Other ones include:
Kitchener Street South (June)
Lorne Street Stage 2 (May 2012)
O’Connell Street (End 2012)

It’s timely to see Darby St today looking so wonderful -when an Auckland Council committee is today considering a pedestrian-friendly masterplan for the city.

Opening details on April 15

PS Following some of the comments about no signage..

This is the sign showing today at the Q St entrance:




  1. Matt L says:

    I have been through it a couple of times and like it, I have also seen a few cars using it and generally it seemed to do what it is meant to by keeping them slow. It is really nice when there are no cars to be able to easily walk up the middle of the street rather than on a tiny footpath on one side.

    All it needs now is for some of the businesses to develop outwards more and perhaps a few cafes with outdoor seating would be nice.

  2. Patrick R says:

    Yay! maybe Ak will become a real city…..?

  3. Anthony says:

    I like it

  4. patrick says:

    fort street area upgrade to shared space will be impressive.
    It does show up now some run down parts like federal street and lower Hobson street.
    Wondering if anyone is noticing those streets

  5. Johans says:

    I’m loving the share street concept but I’m just finding the place abit bland with all the grey pavers and the lack of seating in the new design.

  6. anthony says:

    oh and btw are the Nikau palms?

  7. Feijoa says:

    I’ve used the street quite a few times since it was open (on foot) and am appreciating the extra space.

    My initial impression, when I first walked down it at evening rush hour, is that that it could be dangerous as cars whizzed through with rat-runners taking a shortcut. Since then, when I’ve walked through during the day, it has been relaxed with more pedestrians and only the odd moving car (usually there is an illegally parked car too).

    In terms of design I agree with Johans that it is a bland look. Having all of the furniture, (cheap highway style) lights and trees down one side and a wide expanse of grey paving is not appealing to my taste. A patch of raised grass, turning some of the seats perpendicular, a sculpture… anything would be nice to add interest to the design.

  8. After all the hype, I am very disappointed - it is grey, dull, lackluster and very cheap (especially the seating and the street lights - I have seen better lighting in Soweto).

    The seating that was promised would have been a lot better but as usual we have to settle for the third best option (to view the initial seat design -

    Auckland is fast becoming the greyest and dullest city on this planet - no fun, no colour, no quirky design elements, no imagination and no soul.

    I do hope that I am proven wrong and that those seats and lights are only temporary - let’s all pray.

  9. Patrick R says:

    Can nobody see the Nikaus?

  10. Feijoa says:

    @Patrick: yes, nikaus are there, and I think they are a beautiful tree perfect for Auckland. But the way they’ve been placed in one straight line lacks imagination and adds to the monotony.

    Like Eye on Auckland, I hope too that the seating and lights are temporary, but won’t hold my breath.

    Who designed the St Patricks Square revamp and can we get them back?

  11. Luke says:

    I also agree. I think the traffic engineers must have intervened to ensure a clear straight road is available, this defeats the whole point of the exercise.
    Any one driving down here needs to be wary and uncertain, this slows them down.
    Quirkiness is also key, something that seems to be lacking.

  12. AKT says:

    Let’s not forget it is still a road and people drive through it. They don’t drive through the park area of St Patricks Square so it’s not exclusively for pedestrians, much as that would be ideal for some of us.

  13. Matt L says:

    People drive through parts of St Patricks Square, there is even a car park that enters on to it so in a way it was really the CBD’s first shared space.

  14. Jon C says:

    True that there is parking and access around the Cathedral and associated buildings but the actual park area is contained. When people are arguing we need more seating in Darby St like St Patricks, there are limited options.
    Darby is still Darby Street. St Patricks is a Square which has designated areas where you can safely lie on the grass or sit without the fear of cars coming by.

  15. Christopher Dempsey says:

    Thanks all for your comments. I personally am underwhelmed by the actual space itself, but I suspect that it is deliberately designed that way.

    I have been in the space several times, both as a pedestrian and as a cyclist. I have observed that a number of drivers still whizz through the space as if it were a road. Encouragingly a number of drivers equally are slowing down, grudgingly rather than willingly.

    I have taken to walking up the centre of the space, and making random circuitous paths when cars are entering the space (without ‘blocking’ them) to reinforce the message that pedestrians own the space, not vehicles. I would encourage all who enter the space to safely do the same.

    Enforcement is an ongoing issue, and I note there is zero enforcement at the moment. I’ll chase this up with AkTransport - not the blog site - the organisation!

    Christopher Dempsey
    Member, Waitemata Local Board

  16. Jon C says:

    @Christopher Please do. There is no education going on to tell drivers the status has changed.
    Enjoying Trax?

  17. Christopher Dempsey says:

    Yeah, I am enjoying it thanks!! Brings back memories…

  18. Jon C says:

    Christopher (above, from the Waitemata Local Board) has followed this through by asking these questions:
    Thanks Christopher.
    Some observations about the Darby St shared space.

    1) The final design of the space differs from the promised design as advertised on the old Auckland City Council website, particularly in terms of seating. (see
    Why is this so?

    2) It is noted that people are continuing to park in the space. Not for five minutes, but for several hours at a stretch. Where is the enforcement?

    General traffic is like a beast. You have to train it to move and flow in certain ways. Being a beast, it is not responsive to pleading niceties. It does respond, however, to enforcement. Repeated enforcement over a long period of time, typically 9 months or so.

    What tends to happen is that once people get a ticket once or twice, they start to tell their friends. Who tell other people. Gradually, the common knowledge about spaces in the city changes over time – but this takes time, which is why you need enforcement over a 9 – 12 month period.

    3) What is the enforcement regime designed for Darby St, and inter-alia other shared streets in the city centre such as Fort St for the next 12 months? I expect to see a detailed response regarding this aspect.

  19. Matt L says:

    I assume the seats and lighting were scaled back due to funding pressures. With the design itself I thought it would have been better to have the trees on one side of the road for the first half of the street and on the other side of the road for the second half. That would mean that cars don’t have one defined straight line they can race down instead forcing them to slow down and weave through the area.

    As for enforcement, yes it needs to happen but so far the only cars I have seen in there are couriers and in that regard it seemed to work well. I am concerned about Fort St as it is much wider however even before work started I had noticed that most drivers were generally much more courteous with pedestrians where the street joins Queen St. I have also noticed that at the Queen St end they have put up a sign saying it is a shared space, I thought the whole point was that the design would show this and avoid the need for more signs.

  20. @ Christopher - Thanks for being proactive :)

    I agree with Matt L and I like the idea of staggering the nikau’s so that it forms some sort of speed bump but there seems to be a tendency in Auckland that everything must be in straight lines or square in shape - very old fashioned, very boring, very formal.

    Flowers go a long way to brighten up spaces eg. and/or as CHCH has shown us ……

    There is also a tendency in Auckland that street furniture must look like park benches from the 80′s and must be timber … there are very exciting alternatives eg.

    It is fun, bright, cheerful and nothing like the depressing beige | brown | black and grey that we are being bombarded with.

    I was over the moon to see that the public seating in Lorne Street will be bright colours but the latest render shows that it has been dumbed down to look as if it is rusted metal - muddy brown … YUCK !

    Enough already - it is well known that colour brightens dull landscapes and uplifts people’s moods. Winters in Auckland are even worse - grey sky and grey city = grumpy people and emmigration to brighter cities such as Melbourne.

  21. Feijoa says:

    Thank you for following up on these concerns, Christopher. It will be interesting to see if Auckland Transport make any improvements as it is 80% right and with a little tweaking the area could be great.

    @Jon: I was thinking more about the interesting geometric paving designs and lighting of St Patricks Square, even if there isn’t room for an actual park in Darby Street. I guess St Patricks Square had a much bigger budget (but better designer too?)

    @Eye on Auckland: the seat and Spanish planters look great. It would be cool if they put a miniature version of something like that (or any raised planter, contemporary or conservative) on the northern side of Darby Street so as Matt L points out it would break up the ‘drag strip’ aspect of the current design

  22. Matt L says:

    I should add there is actually large block letters on the Fort St paving, they are very faint but I suspect they will be properly painted over to provide some more colour in that one, I wonder why they have done it on Fort St but not Elliot St.

  23. @ Matt L … those letters are embedded into the paving blocks - I doubt that they will be any brighter but I hope that I am wrong because they are very faint and don’t quite make an impact.

    Here they could have been bolder as well and showed us a stylised version of the water mark i.e. the shore lapping up onto the land eg.

    Unfortunately the city council seems to be a one trick pony ;)

  24. AKT says:

    @Feijoa St Pats cost $9.2m and Boffa Miskell – the council’s landscape designer – won the George Malcolm Supreme Award at the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Resene Pride of Place Landscape Awards 2010 for it.

  25. Christopher Dempsey says:

    A response:

    AT are currently going through an education phase in Darby Street as this is the first time Auckland (and NZ) has seen a shared space and associated shared zone signage. We have an officer on Darby Street Mon-Fri 8am-6pm. Our mayor will officially open Darby Street as a shared space Friday the 15th, with enforcement beginning on the 16th.

    AT is currently developing specific parking enforcement protocol for shared zones. A non-confirmed but indicative approach is below:
    • During 6-11am, P5 loading and unloading time, vehicles attended and observed continuous loading and loading activity can park for the time necessary to conduct business
    • No Parking At All Other Times, clearly means no parking. Vehicles cannot load or unload during this time. The project team have indicated the zones intended use where vehicles stopped momentarily to drop off or pick up people is okay but not promoted. Vehicles cannot park and wait for their passenger to arrive.

    Christopher Dempsey
    Member, Waitemata LB

  26. Christopher Dempsey says:

    Additionally, the former Auckland City Council was responsible for putting in the Nikau, seating etc, so the new Auckland Council is continuing this responsibility.

    I will chase up regarding the design aspects…


  27. AKT says:

    I have added a photo of the sign that was there today.. see bottom of the post. Thanks Christopher for your good work as always.

  28. Feijoa says:

    Good news: they’ve started work to fix Darby St this morning. They’ve pulled the seats out and are cutting up the paving to put them in perpendicular to the street. No sign of the more slinky bench yet.

  29. Christopher Dempsey says:

    I found out a little more about Darby St. Speaking to the contractors down there I found out that what we are seeing is what is called a ‘soft’ opening, where it is functional, but more work is needed to be done.

    The extra work is actually the installation of granite seats, which won’t be perpendicular to the “road” but parallel.

    The ‘hard’ opening will happen on 15th April.

    Christopher Dempsey
    Waitemata LB

  30. AKT says:

    @Thanks Christopher for the update. Auckland Council asked me to mention the Facebook page promoting the 15th event

  31. Feijoa says:

    @Christopher: thanks for update. I jumped to wrong conclusion based on the amount of pavers they were cutting out across the street. I see today that it is because of the wider bases they’re putting in.

    I think it is a shame they have kept all of the amenities in this straight narrow band — it doesn’t help make it a shared space.

  32. Rodney says:

    I went there yesterday evening to check it out and I have to say it is a fantastic improvement. It is clear that it is a ped. priority space, I had no trouble wandering drunkenly [metaphorically, of course] all over the place, a few cars dribbled through but truly chalk this one up for us: Humans 1; Machines Nil.

  33. Matt L says:

    I noticed that black seats just like in the design were being installed today

  34. [...] While it boasts wide footpaths and trees, I challenge anyone to point to the shared part of the shared space. Car parks are 2h pay-and-display parks, which doesn’t lend itself to sharing - except with other cars, and the road down the middle looks as unfriendly as any other. At least the signs say “please” when asking drivers not to run over pedestrians. I regularly walk up and down Cuba Street, swinging back and forth between anger and sadness for what we’ve been given as compensation for lost pedestrian space. Honestly, Lower Cuba St bears more resemblance to Blair Street and Allen Street than to any of Auckland’s new shared spaces. [...]


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