Community · 18 Apr 2021

Huge Passion Behind Innovative Streets Initiative.

Aimee Wilson

Aimee Wilson


The first of three public design-thinking workshops on ‘Innovating the streets of Invercargill’ was a huge success, and organisers are excited about what the future holds.

Te Waka o Waihopai, in conjunction with Coin South are hosting the workshops, as part of the community-led response to the Innovating Streets funding awarded to the Invercargill City Council.

Facilitator Cathy Jordan said it was about using a tactical urbanism approach by using temporary measures to test prototypes, and find out what people like and get their feedback.

“Everyone has a different use and need for spaces and this approach is very community driven, it’s not new in the world but it’s new for New Zealand.”

Facilitator Cathy Jordan with Louise Evans from Coin South. Photo: supplied

The workshops are an opportunity to investigate, experiment, and explore ways that the city streets could be improved and used in new ways.

The $400,000 funding from Waka Kotahi will be used for three key projects, which will also complement the Invercargill City Centre Master Plan project already underway.

The projects include the Deveron Street Activated Cycleway, CBD street events to tie in with the Esk and Don Street major transformation taking place, and shelter ideas and activations.

Mike Sanford founder of said participating in last Sunday’s workshop helped him find his calling – to make our pedestrian crossings safe again. 

“I have lost count the number of times I have almost been taken out by drivers speeding, and due to the poor visibility of the crossing on Tay Street.”

The workshops are open to people of all ages and there will also be feedback sought from schools as well.

Busy workshop participants. Photo: supplied

Cathy said from the first workshop it was clear that colour is important to youth, particularly relating to the different types of shelters that could be made available in the city.

Accessibility was another big one, and ensuring that spaces are safe for people to move around the city.

“Having that broader range of people helps in making practical solutions.”

Louise Evans from Coin South said co-design is all about listening to the people who are your customers, the ones using your space. 

“It’s not about asking why people do what they do, but how might we change those things. These kinds of questions lead to more positive problem solving.

So instead of “how do we stop the rain?” We try and answer “How might we make rain more fun,” and suddenly you get: drum kits activated by rain falling. Or light projections onto rain.

Busy workshop participants. Photo: supplied

Then we make the simplest version of that idea and test and add, and test and change, and test ideas and gain as much feedback as we can to make sure we’re making things that are truly meaningful and solving real problems.”

She said they tried to put people in the shoes of others and look at Esk and Don with fresh eyes. 

“Southern Cross lent us a wheelchair so we could understand the view point, frustrations and needs of those in the community using those streets on wheels. 

The next workshop is on Monday evening at COIN South, Don Street, Invercargill.

More information about the workshop on Monday below

Te Waka o Waihopai Co-design Workshops