Designing the Future of Northcote

Students with Renee Pak from Kainga Oras urban development team
Students with Renee Pak from Kainga Oras urban development team

How would you come up with an idea for transport that’s fun, safe and sustainable? How would you design an outdoor hangout space for teenagers? And what would your ultimate future library look like? 

In the last six weeks of Term Four at Northcote Intermediate, teachers asked these questions of 120 Year 7 and 8 students with the aim of getting them to consider how they would shape their changing neighbourhood.

Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, Panuku Development Auckland, Northcote Library and Isthmus came into the school to help guide the students on their projects. The students found the transport question easy – e-scooters were a no-brainer, they said, to reduce congestion on the roads and create a sustainable way to get to school. But with the current bike shed being open air, designing a lockable shed with a charging station would need to be part of the plan.

Somewhere to hang out for adolescents and young teens? Redevelop Cadness Loop Reserve. A skate park, pump track and basketball court were popular ideas, as was a stepped and shaded area to watch ball games and chat.

Reimagining the Northcote library really got the students thinking, says teacher in charge Andrew Kingston, and sparked lots of ideas. “They thought there were not enough quiet areas in the library to be able to focus on schoolwork, but they also decided more creativity was needed to brighten it all up.”

Suggestions included funky wayfinding signage on the floor, a more creative approach to lighting, more events to maximise the library’s potential as a venue – and, as you’d expect, more digital technology available. 

Andrew said the school leaders felt fortunate to be able to get the students involved in real-life situations that could lead to outcomes in their own community. “Opportunities like this build confidence and enhance problem-solving capabilities which can be applied to many other parts of their lives. It’s also great for the kids to see how these professionals work together – it might inspire them to explore these occupations further.”