Penny Allan landscape architect/practicing academicPenny.allan@vuw.ac.nz

outpost

New Zealand, ‘last, loneliest, loveliest’… is the most recently occupied land mass on earth, and far away from the statistical centre of the world’s population.  It was conceived as an outpost of the old world, a South Pacific version of an experimental utopia. But the reality is far from paradise. While the country has its own versions of global issues; economic, environmental and cultural conflicts, these are complicated by extreme geological volatility, fragile land surfaces, an extensive coastline and a small population which suffers from ‘the tyranny of distance’.

‘Outpost’ is a collaborative design research practice co-founded by Penny Allan, Martin Bryant and Sam Kebbell at the School of Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) established to critically investigate these conditions through design research and speculative propositions. It draws on the expertise of government, stakeholders and industry to develop compelling alternatives to the status quo.

2014 postgraduate projects

1. Nick Wheaton: Densifying Diversity
This project, centred on the revitalisation of Lake Horowhenua,  investigates new hybrids and interdependencies of built form and ecology, based on the notion of abundance and diversity.
2. Tarsh Milne : Freedom to Roam
The extensive privately owned farmland on the Kapiti Horowhenua coast gives very little opportunity for the public to appreciate and enjoy the landforms, cultures and ecologies that define this stretch of coast. This project proposes a network of rights of way across high ground that support the sometimes conflicting agendas of farmers  and conservationists.
3. Deborah Scott: Landscape Heritage as a Catalyst for Change
This project investigates the notion that heritage is about the ongoing patterns and processes generated by human contact with land over time, and that these patterns may form the basis for a ‘living  heritage’ that promotes future practice.
4. Olly Chan: Settlements in Flux
River mouths and coasts are subject to enormous flux which is not considered in normal settlement patterns. Is it possible to develop new forms of settlement that are responsive to that flux?
5. Winston Dewhirst: Vegetation and Settlement
This project investigates the forces that shape vegetation patterns in the dunes and suggests that this might be a way to inform new kinds of settlement pattern that integrates built form and ecology in a way that does not destroy the beauty of the natural environment.
6. Mark Radford: Town Centres in the Hinterland
Hinterland towns are evolving with new expressways and development pressures. This project explores the town centre of Waikenae and its relationship to the river.
7. Caitlin Walliss: Settling on a Floodplain
This project looks at the shifting nature of the Waikenae floodplain and suggests that, rather than retreating to higher ground, we stay and adapt using different forms of settlement and legible connections to high ground
8. Louise Seyb: Out to Pasture; Redefining the Retirement Village
This project explores the possibilities of a retirement village that embraces younger generations, engages directly with the neighbouring natural landscapes, and makes use of the aging labour resource.
9. Jonny Fletcher: Red Fish, Blue Fish; Urban Outdoor Retreat
There is evidence that the urban areas do not sufficiently provide for young adults, ultimately driving them out of town. This project attempts to develop an outdoor recreational facility that forms part of the urban fabric for Kapiti-Horowhenua youth.
10. George Grieve: Beached Az; Between Water, Land, & Town
The junction between the sea, river, land, ecology and suburbia is a fundamental matrix for the Kapiti-Horowhenua district. The mouth of the Waikanae River is the intersection between all these things, and this project attempts to reconcile the conflicting demands.
11. Gwena Gilbert: The First Line Back; Settling on the Coastline
The coastline is prone to coastal recession and sea level change . It also forms part of the NZ psyche to have public access to our coasts. This project embraces the benefits of living on the coast, public life, and the unstable ground.
12. Ben Allinson: The State of Highway One; Development under the Highway
State Highway One cuts through small towns throughout NZ, and it is fundamental infrastructure for Kapiti-Horowhenua. This project explores opportunities surrounding, and under, the highway that might benefit small towns all along this line.
13. Ben Allnatt: Dirt from the Earthen Oven; Reclaiming the old Quarry
Kapiti presents a useful ‘plan B’ for the central government, should their facilities become uninhabitable in a disaster scenario. This project attempts to develop housing and public infrastructure that is useful before a disaster and vital after it.
14. Belinda Stuart: Where art thou car? Car Parking at Coastlands Mall
With relatively low densities and populations, widespread public transport is not viable in Kapiti-Horowhenua: cars are crucial in the meantime. This project explores the silver lining of car use, when embraced alongside other urban and pedestrian activities.
15. Tom Inwood: Transect Defines Settlement
This project assumes an influx of residents at Paekakariki, and proposes to generate a new form of ecological infrastructure that links geomorphology, the highway and an expanded settlement while addressing issues of amenity, water security, flooding and biodiversity.

The challenge is to understand disciplinary implications of each specific project: for landscape and infrastructure and how they engage with community; for building types, approaches to composition, materials, assembly systems, and aesthetics, for example. All of these projects interrogate what these disciplinary techniques and ideas,might bring to bear on a region like Kapiti-Horowhenua. In the end they each observe some form of squandered opportunity, and they are all on the hunt for a compelling alternative.

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