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Concept Designs by Unitec Landscape Architecture Students—30 October 2013

October 30, 2013

On 1 October, a group of Unitec Landscape Architecture students visited CUE Haven to learn about the project and our plans for the future and to identify areas where landscape architecture could assist with the project and enhance visitor experience.


Since then, under the direction of Ian Henderson, Program Director, Landscape Design, the students have been working to develop concept designs for areas that they wanted to work on.

This morning we met at the Unitec Landscape Design studio with Ian and students Alicia, Alisa, Eleanor, Gary, Jala, Sharon and Val so the students could present their designs.  Each student explained the design area they selected and explained the concept of their design and what they were trying to accomplish.  They showed drawings and discussed various design issues.

Ian critiqued each presentation along with Penny Cliffin of the School of Landscape Architecture and Jeanette Budgett of the School of Architecture.



We were extremely impressed with all of the students’ designs and all of the ideas are very interesting, creative and exciting.

Here is a brief summary of each of the students’ designs.

Jala was interested in the natural amphitheatre near the top of the property between the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Grove and the site of the future Learning Centre.  Her vision is for a platform stage and open seating to cater for up to 250 people.  It would be a facility where people could gather for education, inspiration and enrichment.

The design includes innovative features such as a dramatically curved stage roof and a fire trough in front of the stage for aesthetic and practical purposes.   The space would be managed further with the use of an interesting earth wall to mark the entrance and a manuka hedge to provide wind protection.




During the tour of CUE Haven, Gary had noticed a number of places where he thought it would be nice to have seating where visitors could relax and enjoy the sounds and sights.  His design identifies each area and includes how proposed seating areas would look.

Gary took into account how the materials would be transported to the remote rest areas and also the cost of the benches so he proposed using readily sourced natural materials like macrocarpa for constructing the log benches.  Additionally he proposed enhancing each rest area with different plants which would provide wind protection, shelter from the sun, or flowering trees like kowhai and pohutakawa that would add colour to the space.





Val focused on the pond at the top of the property and came up with an imaginative and dramatic concept that incorporates a waterfall. Her plan includes planting specific native species in the right position around the pond to help increase biodiversity.  She proposed circulating the water through a regeneration zone of aquatic plants to filter out contaminants and prevent algae, thereby making the pond reasonably maintenance free. The water would circulate out towards some big rocks to create a waterfall beside which would be seating areas for people to enjoy the space.




Alisa came up with ideas on how to improve the walking track network on the property with tracks that are easy to walk and require minimal maintenance.  The underlying theme of her design is to have people walk through the bush, not past it.

She proposed a long track which traverses much of the property and uses switchbacks and curves to minimise the grade.  Her rolling grade track design is built around best practices for building walking tracks and is also sensitive to the landscape, the objectives of the CUE Haven project and the needs of future visitors.




Alicia’s design also looks at the area between the future Learning Centre and the DoEH Grove.  Her visionary plan looks to how CUE Haven will be in a decade when a lot of the trees have matured. Her plan involves the careful planting of specific trees now so as the native bush develops it creates a haven for visitors to discover and enjoy.  The idea is for people to stop, look and listen to what is around them.




Sharon’s design calls for a boardwalk and planting around the pond near the top of the property.  Her concept is both aesthetic and practical with a focus on improving water quality in the pond, stabilising the banks, controlling erosion and attracting native birds and protecting restoration plantings.




Eleanor focused on the opposite end of the property and her design is for a raised boardwalk through the wetlands.  Her design includes different ideas for how to construct wetland boardwalks and also incorporates ideas for building viewing platforms so that visitors can observe the wildlife. Her proposal is very timely as we will be constructing a boardwalk through the wetland this summer and we will be able to incorporate her suggestions.




We were very impressed with all of the students’ designs.  Their presentations and materials were very professional and their ideas were creative and innovative.  In addition to great ideas for the future, we also got some excellent ideas and advice for things we can do today, such as track building ideas and ideas for synergies with other ongoing projects.

They had taken into account our vision for CUE Haven and have added much value to the project.

Thank you Ian for arranging the presentations today and for coordinating and supporting this project.  And thank you Jeanette and Penny for taking the time today to provide constructive feedback to the students.

And our many thanks to the students for their great ideas, hard work and professional presentations.  We wish you all the best with your continuing studies and do hope you will continue to be involved with the CUE Haven project.



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