A native planting theme makes a nice, simple statement for Aotea Square, says landscape architect Rod Barnett.
Mr Barnett, part of the team that has come up with a proposed $25 million makeover of Aotea Square, yesterday hit back at criticism over the loss of flower beds and exotic trees.
Lesley Max, who fought to save exotic trees in Queen St, is aghast at the latest plans by Auckland City Council for Aotea Square.
Instead of keeping the flower beds in the square, she says the council is creating a sterile expanse of granite in keeping with an "aesthetic and ideological agenda" based on natives.
Mr Barnett said the design team opted for natives to build on the idea of a sense of place that local and visitors could be proud of.
A row of nikau palms on either side of the main square area preserved view lines across the square and gave a link to the nikau in Queen St, he said.
"We really wanted to go for nice, strong, uncluttered lines and maximum use of the square. Currently it has got a lot of clutter and a lot of areas that can't be used."
Mr Barnett said the designers looked at exotics, but found them to be unsatisfactory and half-hearted.
'I'm not into compromise solutions. I think it is important to have a clear and emphatic aesthetic and that is what we are going for."
The council's urban design panel has come round to the native planting theme after previously saying exotic trees were acceptable.
At the final design hearing on Aotea Square last Thursday, one of the panel members, Stuart Kendon, said it made sense to plant the square with native trees.
Panel chairman Professor John Hunt said that overall the design had a measure of elegance, simplicity and balance, given the challenging design brief and constraints.
The $25 million budget had restricted the project's overall quality and scope.
The panel has strongly recommended the council consider a water feature, such as a series of fountain jets, to enliven the square when it is empty.