Kitt of parts
Tomorrow is the closing day for submissions on the Frank Kitts Park design brief. The brief itself (57kB PDF) is a high-level document laying out the principles and functions that should guide the design, so there's no actual design to discuss yet. I've already had a go at suggesting some priorities for the redesign, but as is my wont, I couldn't resist having some thoughts about the physical layout.
The Chinese Garden is supposed to be 3000 square metres, which is indeed a large area to incorporate into the existing space. My first thought was to put this on the under-utilised raised section at the south, but apparently it would be difficult to put water features there on top of the carpark. It would be expensive to dig up the existing amphitheatre in the middle, which leaves only the northern end. This map shows roughly how much space would be required.
But what about the popular playground? Without knowing the engineering details, I would guess that it wouldn't be too hard to relocate this to the raised area. Since the playground is something that kids would gravitate to wherever it's located in the park, that could make better use of the southern end, which is currently a bit of a leftover.
The other weekend when we visited for the Jazz Festival, the amphitheatre space was almost pleasant despite a nastier-than-average Wellington northerly. This seemed to be thanks to the terraces at the northern edge of the amphitheatre, and the trees just beyond. The eastern terraces weren't sheltering that space, but they did block any visual connection between it and the water. It might thus be desirable to stop these terraces at about the third tier, and then start stepping down towards the promenade.
Together with removing the steps that block the Willeston St viewshaft, this would help give the feeling of actually being on the waterfront, and create some informal seating facing towards the water as well as away from it. It would reduce the capacity of the amphitheatre (by about 50 or so), but for bigger events some temporary seating could be installed above the northernmost terrace. For really big events ... there's always Waitangi Park.
If anyone has any thoughts about these partly-baked ideas, let me know. For instance, the northern end might be too shady or inauspicious for a Chinese Garden, or the carpark end might be too windy for the playground. And I haven't even touched on some of the more imaginative redesign opportunities that might be possible. Add your comments, or even make an online submission: it would be great to get some positive and constructive comments to balance the knee-jerk naysayers.