O’Connell Street Upgrade Hero

O’Connell Street Upgrade

O’Connell Street is part of a network of narrow streets and laneways located to the east of the Queen Street valley in Auckland’s city centre. Just 10m wide, the street is strongly characterised by the architectural quality of its buildings and stands out as a rare example of the original built form from the 1920s remaining largely intact today. As well as being a boutique retail destination within the city centre, O’Connell Street also retains a strong commercial character.

It is an increasingly popular destination for people with growth in foot traffic of 115% over the last two years. Around 5,000 pedestrians and 1,350 vehicles access O’Connell Street on an average weekday.

The upgrade of O’Connell street was one of many city centre streetscape and open space upgrades inspired by the City Centre Master Plan 2012.  The upgrade was designed to re-establish O’Connell Street as an important part of the city centre ‘laneway’ circuit – a walking route connecting a sequence of public squares and gathering places from Aotea Square to the Waterfront. 

Auckland Council and Auckland Transport’s aims:

  • To protect and enhance the historic character of the street while celebrating the pedestrian scale by transforming it into a ‘shared space’
  • To provide greater pedestrian priority throughout the area and more space for people
  • To create a distinctive and popular destination
  • To support business and residents by providing more space for outdoor activities
  • To better connect the area with the surrounding network of streets
  • To create a high quality, sustainable streetscape.

What we did:

The client wanted the project completed within a tight programme and with minimal disruption to represent what could be achieved so that future development in the area could be more easily approved by stakeholders.

Works included:

  • Upgrading existing Telco services and installing spare ducts and chambers for potential future use
  • Installing 9 tree pits and 8 manholes to take the treepit drainage
  • 120m of Aco drain to manage the site stormwater
  • New lighting in ground and street lighting
  • 1500m2 of concrete and new pavement
  • Street Furniture and Architectural features
  • New Planting.

O’Connell Street is a busy thoroughfare and as such, neighbouring businesses, shops and cafes needed people to be able to access them during opening hours. As a result we broke construction down into three stages:

  1. Stripping off surfacing, identifying in-ground services, and preparing the site for the main works
  2. Putting in the in-ground components
  3. Laying the concrete surfacing and paving.

We kept local tenants and owners informed about progress and carried out larger-scale disruptive work on Sundays when access wasn’t an issue.

We completed all works up to and including the concrete works and then sub-contracted paving, street furniture and lighting works. Because of the tight timeframe we employed multi-skilled tradesmen who could switch between tasks as required to keep the project flowing. This minimised coordination risks and time delays between trades.

The outcome:

This is one of a number of inner city street upgrades. It’s one of the fastest to be completed thanks to good planning, and a quick turnaround on areas of big impact such as work in front of shops and access ways for local businesses.

O’Connell Street has been transformed from a street which had been forgotten to a people-friendly street where they can shop, sit, relax, linger, dine and spend time. It provides more footpath space, high quality paving across the width of the street and modern street furniture including lighting and public seating.

This upgrade has helped transform another city centre street – going some way to achieve Auckland Council’s aim of “creating the world’s most liveable city.”