Drews Avenue streetscape takes shape

Published on March 03, 2021

February Drews Avenue co-design workshop

A plan to install a transformative streetscape in Drews Avenue is gaining impetus, after a second co-design workshop was held with key stakeholders in February.

Town Centre Regeneration project manager, Ellen Young, says the February workshop refined and consolidated the proposed design, and in March the wider community will be asked for their feedback on it.

She says the Drews Avenue group, which includes residents, business owners, community groups and iwi representatives, has worked together to come up with a truly exciting vision for a welcoming destination.

“Our aim is to develop an area with outdoor seating, greenery and games where locals can mingle and visitors can experience Whanganui’s creativity and hospitality,” Ellen Young says.

“Drews Avenue has a unique artistic identity and we’ve used that as inspiration, asking ourselves how we can bring what’s happening inside the buildings outdoors, making that creative identity visible in the street.”

Proposed ideas include installing a shared community table outdoors, similar to the communal table upstairs at the eclectic Article café, exhibiting UCOL students’ artwork outside by projecting it onto buildings and highlighting the connection of the awa to Pukenamu Queen’s Park.

The co-design group would also like to explore the possibility of providing an experiential glimpse into aspects of the history of the street, with retro telephone handsets outside Article café playing music samples from bands which once performed onsite and also an apparatus – similar to a microfiche reader – in place, for viewing historic newspaper articles referencing Drews Avenue.

Painted strips on the road, designed by acclaimed local artist Cecelia Kumeroa, will lead visitors through the area, guiding them from one attraction to the next.

Ellen Young says the planned installation is a good way to combat climate change as it links to active transport goals, providing bike racks and encouraging people to travel on foot as they support local businesses. While this project is being rolled out, there will be a push to improve bus services and wayfinding to alternative parking.

She says retaining the heritage value of the area has been an important consideration during the design process.

After the community consultation in March, designer Ben Mitchell-Anyon from Patchwork Architecture will integrate feedback into a detailed design.

The semi-permanent infrastructure will be installed by the end of June, with a street opening event planned to tie in with this year’s Lights on Bikes celebration.

Community feedback on the changes will be collected until May 2022, and this will be used to inform decisions about whether the changes are removed, modified or made permanent.

Ninety percent of the project funding comes from central government, through Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets fund. The fund supports councils around the country to trial temporary changes to streets to make them more people-friendly.