Te Hauauru Park

2 Jun

A new town centre is emerging at Westgate in West Auckland. In addition to Kopupaka Reserve our design team are also working on the adjoining ‘town park’ known as Te Hauauru.  The 1.1ha park will provide a green heart to the area and create quality open space to support the future growth of Westgate.

“With a proposed café, a large lawn for events, picnic lawns, a water feature for children to play in, and landscaping with native and cherry trees, the park will give shoppers and future residents a green, open space to enjoy,” says Henderson-Massey Local Board Chair Vanessa Neeson.

‘Kia toitu he kauri’ translates as ‘Keep Kauri Standing’ and is the catch phrase of the Kauri Dieback Programme. Following are a series of images used in the design process for the park’s water feature. The kauri relief pattern is embedded and emerges out of a sequence of ground planes within the water feature. The idea evolved through series of meetings with iwi where stories of shared histories around milling and gum digging surfaced – then concerns about Kauri and dieback.

The imprint suggests we think about water quality, wai mauri, wai tapu, wai ora, wai maori – awareness of where we tread – what rests beneath us – death, decay, growth, and then new life.

Hero 1

The following images depict the design process from 3D computer modelling to physical modelling and CAD drawings – of the water feature.

The photograph of the Kauri bark is transformed to a photoshop file and manipulated to form layers which are given height to create a unique fingerprint of the tree bark in digital terrain form. The process is then tested using our studio 3D printer to produce a number of test maquettes at 1:20 scale. Then a 1:1 scale 4.4m x 4.0m 3D routed MDF plug is crafted enabling a silicone rubber mould to be produced. This then allows pre-cast concrete panels to be produced that form the bottom of the water feature.

Hawkins Construction are building the park, due to be completed this spring. Isthmus have provided both architecture and landscape architecture services.


Connections Reflections: State

18 May

A preview of one of the exhibition images “State” by Haylea Muir.

This Saturday the 20th May of the outdoor photographic exhibition Connections Reflections Auckland opens on Queens Wharf, Downtown Auckland New Zealand.
Isthmus are proud to announce that Haylea Muir is one of 7 photographers chosen to shoot and curate the exhibition under the guidance of top International Photographer Tom Ang.

Continue reading

Petone to Melling Cycleway

18 May

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The proposed Wellington to Hutt Valley Walking and Cycling Link (W2HV) will be a game-changing connection in Wellington region’s cycling and walking network. It offers a healthy and safe route around the harbour edge and beyond. This has long been a missing link for walkers and cyclists.

Pages from 4068 NZTA W2HV Open day info boards 2017 .15

The project is divided into three sections. NZTA are currently seeking public feedback on the Petone to Melling (P2M) section which includes an update on the Ngauranga to Petone (N2P) harbour edge section. The Wellington CBD to Ngauranga section will be delivered by Wellington City Council.

Isthmus have been working with NZTA, Aecom and Incite on the design of the N2P and P2M sections over the last couple of years. All going well, the P2M section will begin construction, and the preferred option for N2P will be out for public consultation before the end of the year. We’re looking forward to progressing this transformational project.



Project posters can be found here:


Ralph Johns to speak at Landscape Australia Conference in Sydney.

4 May


Isthmus CEO Ralph Johns will be speaking at the Landscape Australia conference this weekend. He’ll talk about Isthmus’ kaupapa – Land, People and Culture – and illustrate this through the award-winning landscape projects of Taumanu Reserve and Kopupaka Reserve. He will join renowned Australian academic and historian Bill Gammage in a panel discussion.

“Through inspiring keynote presentations and lively panel discussions the Landscape Australia Conference will explore the dynamic role of landscape in the design, planning and management of gardens, cities and regions.”

The conference will be held on Saturday, 6 May 2017 at the Frank Gehry-designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology Sydney.

Full list of conference speakers and program here.


Frank Gehry’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the UTS Business School borders The Goods Line by Aspect Studios and CHROFI. Image: Florian Groehn




RMLA Visual Simulation Roadshow 20 April – 11 May

20 Apr

Last year Isthmus Director Brad Coombs had a stint as a Commissioner on the Rural Chapters for the Queenstown Lakes District Plan review.

Through the course of the hearings Brad had conversations with local lawyers, including Marie Baker-Galloway, the President of the Resource Management Law Association.  Those conversations highlighted the difference in the use and quality of visual simulations (amongst other graphic material) in Resource Management hearings around the country.
So, Brad suggested a visual simulation roadshow to help applicants, specialists and decisions makers to understand the use, limitation and benefits of visual simulations in the consenting process.

Along with Alan England, our visual simulation expert, Brad will be presenting to nine RMLA Branches throughout New Zealand from 20 April to 18 May. The Wellington presentation will be hosted in our Chews Lane studio.

Dates and locations:

Special Operations

10 Apr
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Isthmus is a design studio founded in landscape architecture, but we define landscape in the broadest possible terms; we don’t think in terms of boundaries.

At the NZILA’s Small Urban conference last week Isthmus sponsored one of the keynote speakers. Marco Casagrande shares our no boundaries view of the world, understands the importance of place and the power of integrated design thinking. But he takes the idea of the ‘rebel alliance’ to a whole other level!

Marco is a pluralist, a man of many talents. He’s a writer, and an architect. An artist and academic. An environmentalist and (if you believe Wikipedia) a Bosnian mercenary. Based in Finland, the Casagrande Laboratory has a global reach; his work has been realised in 14 countries. And he’s exhibited no less than five times at the Venice Architecture Biennale!

Marco’s talk was a highlight of the conference. He spoke of the Third Generation City, the post industrial ruined city in which nature can never be truly shut out; “Nature grows back, through the cracks in the wall, sucking humans nature back into the wider nature”.

I was especially intrigued that he talked about the way he works as a designer being akin to the operational practices of the special forces. With a CV like his, that might not be just a metaphor.

“You don’t know what your doing when you start. It is not standard operational procedures. We don’t do it by the book, often we often operate outside of the rules. It’s like a small group being dropped out of a C130 Hercules and parachuting down to the ground to make things happen, ahead of the other forces.

You need courage. You need to hook up with local people and get local knowledge, otherwise the whole operation is doomed. You look for local guys who are connected, in our case connected with nature.”

NZILA Award Winners

7 Apr

It was a big evening for Isthmus Group at the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects awards in Wellington on Wednesday night. The highlight of the evening was winning a Supreme Award – The Charlie Challenger – for our book Coast, Country, Neighbourhood, City. The book was also the Winner of the Communications Award.

The jury said,

“Coast, Country, Neighbourhood, City stands tall at the forefront, showcasing a New Zealandness on a local, national and global stage.”

We were also Winners of:

  • the Te Karanga o Te Tui cultural award and the Sustainability Award for Kopupaka Reserve.
  • the Institutional section for the Wellington Zoo’s “Meet the Locals, He Tuka Aroha”.

And finally, we won Excellence awards for:

  • Taumanu Reserve,
  • Porirua CBD and
  • the Auckland Museum WW1 Centenary Memorial competition.

Isthmus design to advance the relationships between land, people and culture. We care deeply about making Aotearoa New Zealand a better place to live. Every project we undertake is collaborative, the work of a team. We extend a huge thank you to all our clients and collaborators.

 Full details of all the NZILA Awards winners are available here.