Tactical Auckland

Tactical Urbanism in Auckland’s City Centre


“The lack of resources is no longer an excuse not to act. The idea that action should only be taken after all the answers and the resources have been found is a sure recipe for paralysis.”

Jaime Lerner - Architect, urbanist and former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil

What is Tactical Urbanism?

Tactical urbanism refers to temporary, low cost and often community-led interventions that transform urban spaces in creative ways on a space-by-space or street-by-street basis. Tactical urbanism is about phased improvements to urban life. These small interventions challenge users to rethink how they see and use space, contributing to the larger goal of creating safe, liveable streets for people.

Tactical Urbanism is a tool that is gaining traction in both grass-roots and public service circles. In The Planner’s Guide to Tactical Urbanism, Laura Pfeifer (2013) notes “small-scale, temporary projects allow planners to observe interventions on the ground and make adjustments before committing the time and resources needed to complete long-term projects.”

In the public sector, Tactical Urbanism can also be useful in achieving quick change on the ground, often bypassing many lengthy processes required for permanent change. In Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-term Change, Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia (2015) explain “Tactical Urbanism is a learned response to the slow and siloed conventional city building process... It’s a way of putting best practices into, well, practice – and quickly!”

Tactical Urbanism in Auckland

The Tactical Urbanism programme, delivered by Auckland Council and funded by the City Centre Targeted Rate, seeks to provide temporary, low-cost, people-centred interventions through a mix of collaborative activations, pilots and trials in the public realm.

Public space or public realm is the glue that holds the city centre together; the canvas for public life. A better connected public realm supports business, visitor and residents activities alongside inviting the use of walking and cycling.

The Laneways Circuit was first identified as an opportunity in the City Centre Masterplan 2012. It is a network of secondary streets and lanes that have the potential to create a more intimate pedestrian experience through the city centre.

The Tactical Urbanism programme seeks to define and support the Laneways Circuit by delivering short-term projects that enhance the public realm, increase safety and amenity and activate the Circuit until such time that permanent works can be implemented. Tactical Urbanism projects are not, however, exclusively limited to the Laneway Circuit. Following high demand, many other in-need streets are benefiting from tactical urban interventions throughout Auckland city centre.

Our Vision

A people-centred, collaborative programme with an emphasis on ‘doing’: Tactical Urbanism is agile and responsive to the city’s issues and opportunities; it is a programme that achieves change quickly, cost-effectively and creatively. Although temporary, projects instigate long-term change, contributing to a safer, people-focussed city for our residents, workers and visitors.

Initiatives may include:

  • Phased, incremental improvements and/or trials .

  • Placemaking and pilot projects - small-scale, low-cost pilot streetscape projects and treatments for short-term delivery (e.g. parklets, interim cycleways, playspaces, etc.).

  • City centre connections improvements – improve gaps and deficiencies in the pedestrian or cycling network through short-term treatment or pilots.