Auckland City Lets You be the Planner

Scientific American recently featured an article, from Fast Company, on the Auckland City Council’s Shape Auckland Housing Simulator. The simulator helps residents engage with Auckland’s Unitary Plan, a blueprint for the cities future. Ben Schiller writes that the ‘simulator’ is a ‘fun web game to try to figure out how to cram an additional million people into the growing New Zealand city.’ The game is another example of how ‘cities are coming up with all kinds of new ways to bring citizens into the planning process’, Schiller says. He notes that New Zealand’s largest city already ranks highly in global quality of living surveys. ‘But success comes with challenges,’ Schiller says. ‘The city’s government estimates that an additional 1 million people will move in over the next 30 years, on top of a current population of 1,377,000. That means it needs to find at least 400,000 new homes. The simulator allows residents to choose where the homes should go. For example, if you want no height limits in the city centre, you can meet 2.5% of the requirement. Or, you can stop at 28 stories, and get 1.3%. Or, you can choose to leave the four most central areas alone, and get to the target by allowing all feasible residential homes further out, and building on virgin countryside as well (the “sprawl” option). In all, there are 3 million ways to get the 400,000 figures. Once you’ve decided, you can send in your plan via the feature at the bottom, or share it with your friends.’ Schiller quotes Auckland councillor Michael Goudie as saying, ‘Auckland’s a big and varied place, but the simulator gives people a really simple way to visualize some of the decisions that need to be made through the unitary plan. It shows the trade-offs between heights in our centers, growth in density across suburban Auckland and growth out into rural areas.’

Tags: Auckland  Auckland Council  city planning  Michael Goudie  Quality of Life survey  Scientific American  Shape Auckland Housing Simulator