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Drones in the landscape

Whether you love or loath UAV’s or widely known as drones, growth in popularity has rapidly increased in recent years and now varies from small cheaper models that can be flown around the house chasing the dog for fun, to professional models that have been used in recent years to film the likes of David Attenborough’s Planet earth.

 gardens_blenheim

But with restrictions on where you can fly is a license required to gather aerial footage for a Site or populated area?….The UK Civil Aviation Authority believes so. Permission to fly drones for commercial work can be done with a drone license after obtaining it from the Aviation Authority.

sagrada familia

Recently Architects and Landscape architects are realising the importance of aerial footage from drones to advertise and sell a Site in ways that has only been achievable in the past by costly use of a helicopter or plane.

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The market has a good variation of affordable drones that are very capable of capturing 4K footage without forking out the major money on serious professional equipment as used to film parts of Planet Earth. The latest drone from DJI the Mavic pro is extremely portable and user friendly to the everyday enthusiast.

gardens_by_the_bay

Here are a few nice links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luhP0W1n-JE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luhP0W1n-JE

Cuba Street, Wellington, NZ: adaptability and evolution in urban design

On a recent trip to New Zealand I discovered Cuba Street: the bustling, bohemian core of Wellington, the country’s capital city. It’s one of the best examples of a truly characterful street design that I’ve seen for a while with its narrow and varied facades, pocket parks and play areas, sculptures and lack of traffic. It’s particular charm comes in the way that it clearly hasn’t been designed all at once but rather has been developed and altered as and when the users needed it to over time.

Cuba Street, Wellington, New Zeland

The adaptability and evolution of any urban place is key to its success and Cuba Street is one of those places. Cuba Street is nearly as old as Wellington itself having been named after one of the first ships carrying some of the earliest European pioneers in 1840. It used to be the route of Wellington’s tram lines and by 1940 was the bustling retail core of Wellington. Following the tram removal in the early 1960s the street was closed to vehicular traffic and was reopened later in the decade after public calls for it to be pedestrianised.

Cuba Street, Wellington, New Zeland, 1940's

In 1969 the famous ‘Bucket Fountain’ kinetic sculpture was installed and since then the sections between Ghuznee Street and Wakefield Street have been paved in various geometric patterns that loosely follow the placement of the old tram lines. The main axis of Cuba Street is criss-crossed by other vehicular streets leading out into the wider CBD of Wellington. The building facades are narrow, varied and, because of the highly active seismic nature of the land, the more historic buildings in Wellington have very few storeys. As you walk down the street all the conversations, interactions and everyday city activities are within earshot and sight which adds to the overall experience. Wellington is famous for its coffee-shop culture so there are many opportunities for pitstops along the way.

bucket_fountain

The series of pocket parks, benches and stormwater gardens break up the linearity of the street and provide numerous nodes and stopping points providing many interconnected edge spaces along the length of the street. The socio-spatial margins within cities, where human habitation meets built form, have long been cited in urban design theory as key to understanding the life and character of a city. Cuba Street shows how small and gradual design interventions in city spaces help an urban place to evolve and keep up with the times.

It’s the adaptability of a design and the careful responses to a sites history that help small spatial interventions contribute to a lasting sense of place that can stand the test of time. Cuba Street has now been recognised as a historic area and is at the centre of the design codes and plans by Wellington City Council as a key example of how a coordinated approach with designers, stakeholders and users is successful in maintaining a now world-famous streets.