Spatial Research 2012
Oliver Blair's Major 4th Year Spatial Urban Digital Intensified Radical Design Research Project [more info]

Option Y: Description

Option Y The Valley and the Tunnel

This project is a critical response to the National Memorial plan, which will trench state highway 1 between the Basin Reserve and Taranaki st, and then cover it with a park to “…increase connection between the Corrillian tower with the planned Memorial Park.”

This project radicalises the concept that to have greater connection, we must bury the car.

Cambridge/Kent Terrace has been chosen as a test site for developing the project as here pedestrian connection across the city is particularly disrupted by traffic flow.

Adjacent car sales yards and servicing stations become opportunities for new typologies of urban development that increase liveability in the center city, intensifying and increasing connection in and with the city.

A continuous native lowland forest, wetland and stream replace the cars. This new native infrastructure connects to the coastal grasses on the waterfront. Birds and insects can journey unencumbered from one end to the other.

A walkway layers above the native infrastructure, connecting buildings and shop fronts directly to the park and each other. This layer is broken into various “parcels” of lawn, urban agriculture, playgrounds (here indicated in pink) and walkway.

The native infrastructure also bursts through this layer, in parts being framed by or framing the walkway. Line of sight across the park is maintained by planting low lying ferns, grasses and reeds, while the Pohutakawa and Kowhai establish a strong canopy so that while the path meanders and intersects these various conditions and parcels, the destination is always clear.

Stairs extend this rich experience down underground. The stairs also become a gathering space, an arena.

The project takes a stance of cognitive dissonance, where the spaces of pedestrians and automotive transport are both considered in a positive way.

The tunnel becomes a shrine to the car instead of limiting, encouraging and celebrating the benefits of automotive transportation. The tunnel increases capacity of transportation, and becomes a subterranean spectacle where light streams down from above ground through fibre optic sun collector “lily pads”. The monumental structures NZTA seems to appreciate so much are well represented here, with meandering carriageways that flow together and between each other in convoluted spaghetti junctions. Unlike a fixed rail option for public transport, this design is future proof. It can react to changing technological conditions by maintaining a carriageway suitable for driverless cars. The post tensioned monocoque ring structure of the tunnel can also flex and react to changing geological conditions, like a super slinky.

This creates a rich urban experience, where people can easily connect with nature, the city and each other.

Date:Thu 18 Oct 2012 Modified:Mon 05 Nov 2012

Project 21 Animation

Date:Wed 17 Oct 2012 Modified:Wed 17 Oct 2012

Project 20 Under Roads

Finally getting around to designing the tunnel exits and carriageways within.

Getting some nice imagery from the export to cryengine, but taking ages and really just mashing the digital models together to achieve certain views I want/need.

Should have started earlier to develop to a better resolution.

Date:Tue 16 Oct 2012 Modified:Wed 17 Oct 2012

Project 19 Porous Connection

Merging the “Arena” stair model with the valley pattern model. Getting some super interesting results, again I feel like it’s more “keeping discoveries” than “designing”.

One of the discoveries that needs further development is the stairs that enter the stream. This was a mistake that immediately brings up semi-religious associations, but super beautiful, and really speaks to connection (connecting people with nature etc)

Date:Mon 15 Oct 2012 Modified:Mon 15 Oct 2012

Project 18 Cross Section

Working on cross section.

Changing the clipping plane distance effectively does a section cut in cryengine.

Then it’s a matter of exporting a huge image (HiRes screen shot) and editing.

Doesn’t neet much editing in terms of the render, just adding the “Cutt” drawings will be difficult, marrying the aesthetics together.


Date:Sun 14 Oct 2012 Modified:Tue 16 Oct 2012

Lightwell Studies

The Tunnel needs lighting, lots of lighting to make it not “Morbid” (courtesy ICD students)

Here I’ve done a few quick studies for a lightwell type system, the same tech that the “Lowline” will use:

Here are a few diagrams:

Date:Fri 12 Oct 2012 Modified:Mon 15 Oct 2012

The City Abstracted

The design needs context, during the animation, and also in the drawings.

In the animation (CryEngine) I’m aiming to have a lower poly version of the city, for the wider context, with higher poly buildings adjacent to the design.

I’m hoping to also have the adjacent buildings with the low res textures from sketchup (that the WCC model included) but toned down a bit, slightly darker.

Hopefully this will give an abstract context that doesn’t overwhelm the design.


Working images:

Date:Fri 12 Oct 2012 Modified:Tue 16 Oct 2012

Brand Ideas

Testing out branding ideas.

The idea is it would be a Typeface based on the digital terrain modelling pattern. Then the signage for the streets, paths and different parts of the whole system would be set in this typeface.

Date:Fri 12 Oct 2012 Modified:Fri 12 Oct 2012

Old Basin Reserve “Canal” Plans

Fitzgerald, Thomas Henry, 1824-1888. Ward, Louis Ernest, 1866-1938 :Sketch plan[s] showing the original sections sold by ballot in London, July 29th 1839; the original purchasers and claimants, or subsequent owners (in parenthesis) / compiled by Louis E. Ward from T H Fitzgerald’s survey 1840 [ms map]. [ca 1925]. Ref: MapColl-832.4799gbbd/1840-1916/Acc.16123. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


and via:

Courtesy: Averill Clarke (WCC Urban Design)

Date:Fri 12 Oct 2012 Modified:Fri 12 Oct 2012

Naming Branding Thoughts

Option Y is too “Codename”

The Valley and the Tomb/Shrine/Tunnel is too “Binary” or “Opposing”

Need a name that sums up the best parts of the project.

The Valley of the Giants, is already a name for a park in Oregon, among other things.





Option Y talks about the virtual power transfer process from R & D, frames and theoretically positions the project as an alternative to the current plans.

Also, Option Y seems to outline more of a system, rather than a specific park on a specific site. It’s an Option that can be reproduced elsewhere.

I think it males most sense to go with the original thinking at this moment, a title, and then a subtitle that informs the title (This thinking is straight from Dir of Spatial: Ant Pelosi in 3rd year)

Option Y
The Valley and the Tunnel


Date:Fri 12 Oct 2012 Modified:Fri 12 Oct 2012

Draft Presentation Feedback

Date:Thu 11 Oct 2012 Modified:Thu 11 Oct 2012

Material Render Tests

Testing out Bump maps, normal maps, displacement maps etc.

Difficult to get exactly the effect I want, but a good design tool too.

Date:Mon 08 Oct 2012 Modified:Mon 08 Oct 2012

People for renders resource:

Henri Lefebvre Social Space resource:

The porous walkway (landscaping the valley pt2)

The landscaping strategy is getting pretty crazy, so I’ve created a separate post to talk about the walkway process ideas and development.

Here I’ve sketched out a flat walkway, with native wetlands and forest growing in a valley underneath.


The idea being that now a continuous and open native stream, wetland, coastal and forest ecosystem can exist all the way down the park underneath the walkway.

So the people get a nice flat connective and easy path from one side of the street and down it, while the native flora and fauna get a nice dark wet and continuous path too.

This extends the ideas behind the valley and tunnel mutually benefiting each other, with a third native ecosystem component.

This project appears now to be about pedestrians, cars and native flora and fauna.

The Valley
The Tunnel
The Walkway






Date:Sun 07 Oct 2012 Modified:Fri 12 Oct 2012

Project 16 Furniture

Starting to design the furniture elements for the valley park (and maybe tunnel).

Here I’ve quickly sketched out an idea for a semi moveable type of seat and table combo.
It utilises the same language as the tunnel structure system.
(A series of monocoque rings that are linked via internal cabling.)

With the furniture piece, there is a series of vertical concrete slabs that are held together via a cable compressing them together for the table, while the cables extend out, forming a “leash” for the seating elements, slabs of timber held together in a similar fashion.



Working Images:

Date:Thu 04 Oct 2012 Modified:Fri 05 Oct 2012

Project 15 Playgrounds

Giant plastic ball that people can push around, but it can’t escape the frame (horizontally) nor the net/mesh (vertically).

Date:Tue 02 Oct 2012 Modified:Tue 02 Oct 2012

How you may live and travel in the city of 1950, c.1925

“How you may live and travel in the city of 1950″, c.1925

This capsule was curated by John Pollock

Date:Tue 02 Oct 2012 Modified:Tue 02 Oct 2012

Landscape Principles for Reconfiguring Open Space precedent & Project 10 ValleyScape & Project 12 Option Y & Project 14 Valley Planning & Project 8 Option Y & resource:

Biodiversity Action Plan

Some of the identified groupings/areas:








Date:Mon 01 Oct 2012 Modified:Mon 01 Oct 2012

Playgrounds precedent & resource:

Week 9 Thoughts

1. This project takes a stance of “cognitive dissonance” regarding urban spatial connection.
On the one hand, cars move people quickly around the city, increasing economic activity and encouraging a variety of spatial interconnection.
And on the other hand, pedestrian movement encourages a slower, deeper and more rich spatial connection between people and people and people and space/place.

This project attempts to design space that encourages both these points of view, while mitigating the negative outcomes of their interaction.

2. This project needs to be represented as a possible future. Taking into account the massive feat of engineering it would take, it makes sense to represent it as science fiction. Utilizing a science fiction mode will allow the audience/public to “suspend disbelief” and digest the content more readily. This means not to have laser guns and flying cars, but a wholistic perspective of a future world. I’m not talking about aliens and space flight, but a more probable future forecast, where today’s fringe technology is common place.

This project shall envision Wellington in 2062.

So, electric driverless cars,
Ubiquitous solar power.
Embedded technology (the interface is the tech)
Sustainable civilization grounded in a bond with natural ecosystems.

Though specifying all this stuff might be trouble…


Cognitive dissonance is the term used in modern psychology to describe the state of holding two or more conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideasbeliefsvaluesemotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.[1] The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.[1] An example of this would be the conflict between wanting to smoke and knowing that smoking is unhealthy; a person may try to change their feelings about the odds that they will actually suffer the consequences, or they might add the consonant element that the short term benefits of smoking outweigh the long term harm. The need to avoid cognitive dissonance may bias one towards a certain decision even though other factors favour an alternative.[2]

Date:Sat 29 Sep 2012 Modified:Mon 08 Oct 2012

Landscaping the Valley

Planning ideas using digital terrain model grouping intersections and patterns.


In the BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) key groupings and areas of native planting are identified (listed here are the ones that relate to this project):

Native Parcels:

LOWLAND FOREST (More towards Basin)

COASTAL FRINGE (More towards the Harbour)

WETLANDS (Sunken areas, where the tunnel lowers down, wetlands used to exist down Cabridge prior to the 1855 EQ)

STREAMS (An old stream used to run down Cambridge prior to the 1855 EQ)

Programmatic Parcels:

What about the introduced species/programmes/urban agriculture?

WALKWAYS (A variety of Paving to encourage diverse transport usage)

URBAN AREA (Where the park meets the adjacent buildings, needs a softening/hardening/bridging treatment)

URBAN AGRICULTURE (Open & Closed spaces for growing food / BEEHIVES)

WILDFLOWERS (introduced species that aide biodiversity)

LAWN (Grass areas for informal gathering, playing, etc)

PLAYGROUNDS (Modern Play areas, rough and tumble, NOT sand pits)

  • Varied Sizes
  • Dynamic Play Stuff
  • Furniture (Seating and Tables)
4 x Native “Parcels”
6 x Programme “Parcels”
= 24 x Edge Conditions (or 1 unify edge condition? Basalt banding)

Working Images:

Process Videos:




Date:Fri 28 Sep 2012 Modified:Sat 06 Oct 2012

War Memorial Park gets the green light precedent & Project 12 Option Y & Project 8 Option Y & resource: