One Step, Two Step, Pink Bike, Red Hike : Directing Active Play in Auckland City

Kimberley Leonard

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This thesis looks to unravel how Aucklanders, no matter their age or ability, can immerse themselves into the city’s built environment to play. 

Traditionally the typology of a playground is used to promote play in the built environment, however the definition of a playground will be critiqued. The term 'play' is used throughout this thesis as the active function in which people participate in recreational activities. 'Walkability', in urban design is understood as how one can travel independently through a city. Instead of specifically defining 'walkability', this thesis will define 'mobility' within the built environment, to avoid limiting to one mode of movement. 

'Mobility' is to be referred to at the scale that an individual would encounter the city as in their own single entity. It excludes vehicles and public transportation without being  exclusively confined to walking, instead encouraging a wider range of motions and movement.

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Auckland City is striving towards becoming a more active city, with a current action plan in development for its sport and recreation sector. This thesis investigates how landscape architecture can offer a more diverse push for Aucklanders to become more active without limitations around the need for indoor facilities.

Currently, Auckland’s 'playground' typologies are very sterile and often exclusively for active children. Although functional playgrounds can be found that encourage multi-generational use, they often ‘copy and paste’ gym equipment, and insert these into a playground setting. These pieces of equipment are rarely used and are exclusively for more fit and able-bodied people. 

This thesis critiques active play, by designing a built environment that encourages all types of abilities to play on the playscape. Inclusive design elements and equipment will ensure multiple generations and variations of able-bodied people can play. Multigenerational focus is significant due to the weaving of demographics within the highly diverse urban context of Auckland. 

Drawing a focus to the idea of all Aucklanders becoming more active more often, it is also important to consider the people who are more physically able and how they might enjoy playing within the built landscape. The built typology of a playground is redefined throughout this thesis. Play, as a physical act, is studied by examining how different mobile bodies are able to move around, and how they would actually play. Further, through developed manipulations, the ground becomes more than just the surface upon which play occurs. Instead, the study of the ground encourages a way in which people might play, given that not only do they involve themselves with play equipment, but they also interact with different ground typologies.