Australian property developer Central Element, French architect Nicolas Laisne and Rotunno Justman Architectes have been shortlisted for the C40ReinventingCities Design Competition, for their joint submission to transform The Falls Carpark in Auckland.

Central Element and the architects’ vision for The Falls Carpark in Auckland’s Henderson is to create a vibrant, culturally diverse, socially-inclusive, mixed-use eco-community. The development partners’ proposal to activate and revitalise the site includes a mid-rise mixed-use development containing residential apartments, commercial areas and a hotel.  

Henderson is unique in that two waterways flow directly through its centre: the twin streams of Wai o Panuku and Wai Horotiu. Both streams hold significance to mana whenua (local Maori) and are important ecological and amenity corridors. The city council has requested that any development on the Falls site should take this vision, and cultural narrative, into account.

The team worked collaboratively and proposed a design that responds to local social, environmental, neighbourhood and financial stresses to create a new model for 21st century sustainable developments. It adopts mass timber as the structural element instead of concrete and steel. This dramatically reduces construction time, waste and noise pollution while creating a reduced carbon footprint compared to that of concrete and steel. The developer will also partner with New Zealand-based CLT company, Xlam, to preserve local traditions, use local construction materials and ensure the project remains ecologically sustainable.

Using organic forms and Maori designs, the project will follow the rhythm of the two streams and reflect the ranges of the Waitakere National Park beyond. Landscaping will facilitate daily connection to nature. 

The team will submit a highly-detailed final proposal later this year.

C40ReinventingCities is a global contest seeking urban projects that will drive carbon-neutral and resilient urban regeneration in under-utilised sites around the world. The development with the most sustainable and innovative design wins the chance to acquire the land.

The competition invites architects, urban planners, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, start-ups, neighbourhood collectives, innovators and artists to collaborate and compete for the opportunity to transform these sites into new beacons of sustainability and resiliency. 

Other cities in the competition include Cape Town, Chicago, Houston, Lima, Madrid, Milan, Mexico City, Oslo, Paris, Quito, Reykjavik, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and San Francisco. New cities are expected to join in the coming weeks.