Future Cities 2050? We’ve already built them. Ben van Bruggen

30 years ago, technology provided a vision of the future filled with pagers, mobile phones with limited coverage and fax machines.  These have come and gone but our cities are stubbornly slow to change and adapt.  In creating the great city of the future, the design decisions made today matter?

While it’s foolish to predict a technological future, much of our infrastructure, our buildings, streets and public places are recognisable from the past. They endure for decades and centuries. Design of manmade objects isn’t an option but we can decide to design well or poorly, design should work well, be robust and lift the spirits. In creating the great city of the future, the design decisions made today matter.
This presentation explores how our decisions about the design of the city today will have lasting impacts on how we manage our cities in the future. If we prioritise ‘one-size-fits-all’ over context relevant, or an efficient brief to an overtight budget over creating great places, or we allow the demands of the technology over the needs of people we will create cities that are unloved and unliveable.

Ben van Bruggen is the City Design Strategy Manager for Auckland Council. He is an urban planner, designer and urbanist with 25 years experience working in the public and private sectors in the UK and internationally. Auckland is growing and evolving. Ben’s role is to inspire, enable and celebrate great design outcomes for Tāmaki Makaurau.
Ben recently joined the Auckland Design Office from the UK where he is the founding director of van Bruggen Limited, an urbanism consultancy, based in London, UK. It was set up in 2012 to provide advice to clients on urban planning, urban design and architectural aspects of projects, including townscape and heritage assessments and design review services.
Before setting up van Bruggen Limited, Ben was Head of Urban Design at Savills, an international multi-disciplinary property firm. He was involved in leading urbanism projects in China, Russia and Montenegro as well as in the UK.
Ben was Senior Design Review Advisor to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) in the UK where he was responsible for leading CABE’s Design Review work. Ben has been involved in design review work for 18 years and is a leading practitioner and advisor to the industry and government on urban design. He regularly writes about securing design quality through planning and development.


Workshop Five: A Changing Environment

Managing York region’s green infrastructure to create a community where everyone can thrive
Matthew Rodwell, WSP Opus
 Karen Robichaud, WSP Opus

Asset management practices to living assets in York, Ontario, Canada to created a community where “everyone can thrive”.

York Region in Ontario, Canada, is the custodian of one of the province’s largest and most strategically important green infrastructure portfolios, comprising $490 million of green infrastructure, and related recreation and education assets that are essential to the social and economic well-being of the Region.  This paper describes how infrastructure asset management practices were applied to living assets to develop the Region’s first Green Infrastructure Asset Management Plan. The paper will show how innovative techniques were used to value ecosystem service benefits for use in the trade-off analysis of different investment levels, lifecycle management strategies and risk scenarios.

The plan identified game-changers for how the Region manages these assets to achieve its long-term strategic goals and vision to “create a community where everyone can thrive”.  These game-changers include understanding which investments deliver the greatest ecosystem service benefits, establishing service level agreements between the internal departments responsible for creating and maintaining green infrastructure assets, developing green infrastructure performance measures that provide a clear link to strategic goals such as fostering healthy living and improving streetscape amenity, investing in maintenance strategies to maximize the age of urban trees and the ecosystem-benefits they provide, and seeking customer feedback on major strategies driving costs such as streetscaping.  The challenges in preparing an asset management plan for green infrastructure are identified, and recommendations for other practitioners are made.

Matthew Rodwell was Technical Lead of the WSP Opus Team that delivered the York Region’s Green Infrastructure Asset Management Plan.  He has recently relocated to WSP Opus’ Nelson Office where he is a senior asset management consultant and the WSP Opus Team Lead for Tasman Journeys.

Smart technologies to assist managing risks for slopes and structures
David L Stewart, WSP Opus

New monitoring technologies provide exciting options for managing increased risks from slope failures to our key infrastructure, such as transportation corridors.    Greater frequency and / or magnitude of slope failures has been observed in the past few years, as a result of Climate change and (especially in central New Zealand) a more active seismic environment since the 2010 Darfield Earthquake. This increased frequency of slope failure events results in an increased risk to infrastructure and associated human activities.

While the increased risk from landslides poses significant challenges for asset managers, developments in monitoring and data technologies provide valuable tools to help manage these risks.

Examples of slope monitoring technologies to assist management of slope risks will be presented including: drones (UAV); repeat 3D survey models from UAV, LiDAR and laser scanning data; satellite monitoring; and various sensor devices eg. GPS sensor networks.  An update on trials of low cost GPS sensor networks will be also provided, including data presentations on Power Bi dashboards and trigger alerts.

The importance of access to key historical and topographic data to facilitate slope risk assessments will be covered, including the need for increased collaboration.  Given the increased slope risk the role of preparedness and preventative measures will also be stressed.

David Stewart is a Principal Geotechnical Engineer (and Engineering Geologist) at WSP Opus in Wellington with over 30 years experience in slope assessments. He specialises in assessment of slopes and management of risks for a range of clients and types of landforms / infrastructure around NZ, particularly highways. David oversees the slip assessment for the Wellington Highway network and also carries out slope assessments for other clients such as KiwiRail and Councils. His expertise has been in much demand of late following major storm events and for recent significant landslides.  David is a certified UAV operator and along with drones is always looking for new ways of assessing and managing risk from slope failures including slope monitoring. He has been carrying out trials of GPS sensors at two landslide sites since the beginning of 2018.

Workshop Six: Future Cities

Public Transport and the ride hail disruption and its role in our future cities
Gavin O’Connor,  Stantec

What does the future city look like and what role does public transport play?  Does it have to be public transport?  Arguably, the private sector is already showing how to integrate and deliver efficient, effective and convenient transport to our communities better than we ever have… and they’re making a buck from it too!  What could this mean for our future cities?

Following a tour of USA, UK and Europe to explore the developments in Autonomous and Connected Autonomous Vehicles, Gavin presents an insightful overview of the global disruption observed of the ride hail companies and their role in the public transport of the future and the implications for our cities.

The presentation includes discussion on the significant impacts the ride hail companies have made to more traditional public transport services and how the ride hail companies are planning and positioning their offering for the supply of future autonomous door-to-door public transport services.  A thought piece discussion on how to harness this movement to create better access for our customers and more liveable cities for all.

Gavin started his career in the United Kingdom working in local government developing transport strategies and policies to support development and growth.  More recently he has worked in New Zealand delivering Transportation Planning and Engineering solutions for public and private clients right across New Zealand.

Having joined Stantec as an Engineer in 2010, Gavin’s natural leadership ability and drive for continuous improvement has seen him experience rapid development and growth leading to his appointment to General Manager in December 2017.  In this role Gavin leads a team of 220 Transportation professionals to define and implement the strategies that will drive the future of transportation infrastructure and advance communities across New Zealand, today and tomorrow. He is a Bachelor Qualified Civil Engineer, Masters Qualified Transportation Planner, Chartered Professional Engineer and International Professional Engineer and a Chartered Member of Engineering New Zealand.

The Journey of the Tāmaki Waka
Tracey Wadsworth, Tāmaki Redevelopment Company


Tāmaki is the largest urban regeneration project in New Zealand, creating a thriving, attractive, sustainable and self-reliant community where the future looks brighter for residents of today and tomorrow. It starts now, with over 7,500 new homes being built over the next 20 years. Tāmaki will unlock potential like no other district in the region.

Tāmaki Regeneration Company (TRC) has an opportunity to change lives through improving the lived  experience; The people of Tāmaki can look forward to a warm dry safe home.  As a new Property Asset Owner TRC had, no asset and property systems, no processes and minimal staff to manage 2,800 existing state homes, and generate 7,500 new state, market and affordable homes.
From the 1st April 2016 it had a clear mandate to transform Tamaki for its existing tenants and residents as well as a new wave of residents moving in to newly created homes – a new community.
The Asset System and processes were set up to not just manage the homes, but to enable transformation of the portfolio through the regeneration programme.
Effective decision making through the capture of property data including typology, house size, legal land parcel information, GIS and redevelopment programming is at the heart of the day to day management of the properties. This also helps plan regeneration activities, this presentation highlights how the two activities can work together.

Tracey is a property and finance professional with over 25 years’ experience in valuation, corporate real estate, strategic property advisory, property development and infrastructure financing.

Tracey has held senior positions within the Royal Bank of Scotland, CRI and Urban Growth. TRC is an Auckland initiative co-owned by the Crown and Auckland Council.