The city of play : reconfiguring the urban environment

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Mecalfe, Liam
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Schnoor, Christoph
O'Connell, Ainsley
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Aotea Square (Auckland, N.Z.)
Auckland (N.Z.)
Auckland CBD (N.Z.)
urban planning
public spaces
public squares
recreational spaces
Constant, (1920-2005)
New Zealand
Mecalfe, L. (2019). The city of play : Reconfiguring the urban environment. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTION: How can the concept of ‘New Babylon’ be used to repair a neglected part of the city? ABSTRACT: Ever since CIAM and Le Corbusier pioneered the Functional City in 1933, city planners have been trying to design efficient modes of transport, housing, and working areas. As important as these are to a functioning city, life should be more than work and dwelling. The city should also offer unique cultural and social experiences, becoming a place to play rather than merely a place to work. However, housing and transportation problems have remained a focus for urban planners especially with the increased influence of the motor vehicle. Constant Nieuwenhuys, who is commonly referred to as Constant, is a Dutch architect and artist who belonged to the groups Situationists International and the Cobra Group. His project New Babylon has been inspirational to many architects who saw his complex geometries of play as an aesthetic to achieve. New Babylon is a utopian vision of the world that has been designed with ambiences, the movement between them, and people’s interaction with them and each other at the forefront. Because New Babylon sought to show a world where play had now become the focus of life rather than work, it will be used as a conceptual starting point for this project. Although New Babylon was worked on between 1956 and 1974, it is still relevant as many modern cities still repeat the same problems that New Babylon was concerned with. This project’s main goal is then to enhance the city-scape by creating a series of spaces that introduce ambience, public space, and interaction with ones surrounding whilst also disrupting the machine-like aspects of a city. The project identifies areas in Auckland which have neglected public life, and intrude them by building over and reconfiguring them.
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