Wellington Scoop

Canadian recognition for Basin Reserve roading option without a flyover

The Transport Agency wants to build a flyover here – photo: Gordon Price

by Lindsay Shelton
A visiting Canadian academic last month decided to offer a cash reward to a New Zealander who came up with the best idea to promote an incremental change that could make a difference. His choice: he sent his cheque to Richard Reid, the Auckland architect who has developed the second option to solve traffic problems at the Basin Reserve without a flyover.

Richard Reid’s alternative plan for the Basin has been known about for some time, but not by the public. Though he presented it to Wellington city councillors earlier this year (six months after they voted against the flyover), there’s strangely been no acknowledgement of it in any public forum. Its existence didn’t become public knowledge till last week when Paul Bruce persuaded his fellow regional councillors to reverse their decision to support the flyover plan. In his persuasive speech, he mentioned the existence of the Aucklander’s alternative.

The visiting Canadian, Gordon Price who heads the City Programme at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, wanted to support a New Zealand project already underway … with some small gesture of sustainability, and offering an alternative to what he called “motordom excesses.” He describes his decision on his website. He says he decided to give his cash to Richard Reid after the architect told him:

I would like to use the money to pay for the printing and binding of colour drawings to illustrate an alternative design which my practice has prepared for a motorway project in Wellington.
Our alternative design avoids the need to build a flyover and will therefore protect the city’s historic urban structure, keeping vehicle movement on the ground and integrated with the city where it belongs.
Our alternative design offers a whole lot of other benefits as well, including enhanced public space and protected heritage features, and will save the country NZ$100 million if the flyover is not built. Hence, the money will not only go towards a good cause, it will help return huge dividends socially, economically and environmentally.

Richard Reid, who worked with leading architects in Sydney and London before returning home 15 years ago, provides more information on the website of his Auckland architectural practice:

We have a couple of news features on the [Basin Reserve] project on our website here and here. (We are keeping the details of our design confidential at this stage.)
This is the fifth nationally important transport infrastructure project we have developed an alternative design for, with the previous four adopted and implemented almost in their entirety by the New Zealand Transport Agency and the former Auckland City Council. You can see these projects on our website at: www.richardreid.co.nz (look under Projects – Infrastructure).

I met Richard Reid when he was in Wellington earlier this week. He’s passionate about the plans which he has prepared for the Basin Reserve, and he’s confident that they would solve any of the problems identified by the Transport Agency which is so stubbornly sticking to its 1950s flyover concept. I’m expecting that he’ll very soon be able to outline his plans to regional councillors, to help them reassess what needs to be done at the Basin.

The vision of his company is summarised in a way which seems as if it had been written about the issues at the Basin Reserve.

The holistic design of our cities requires both a critical and creative approach. Sometimes the way relatively small details are resolved can change how a city grows and prospers. Lateral thinking and unforeseen visions can transform the image that a city has of itself. Successful cities recognise these moments as opportunities to invest in a better future. Our practice is dedicated to creating these outcomes.

Wellingtonians should be demanding such outcomes for the Basin Reserve.


  1. erentz, 16. November 2012, 11:48

    I’m dying to find out what’s so unique about this solution that’s so vastly different from all the others that have been explored.

  2. Leonie Reynolds, 16. November 2012, 12:23

    This sounds great – creative design is what Wellington is all about! Hope to hear and see more about this project. I agree that these design decisions have a big, longterm flow-through effect on a city as a whole. This is a big call that needs to be approached sensitively.

  3. Tim Jones, 16. November 2012, 13:51

    To a visiting Canadian academic, the stupidity of the Government’s motorway plans is clear. There are now two alternative plans in circulation, despite NZTA’s inability or refusal to look at alternatives to its 1950s-style thinking. And two of the three supposed ‘partners’ in the Basin flyover, the WCC and GW, do not back it.

    Maybe, just maybe, even the present Government might soon realise that building a flyover at the Basin ticks all the wrong boxes and none of the right ones.

  4. Margot Boock, 16. November 2012, 14:12

    Well done, Richard Reid. It’s great to see some thinking “outside the square”, looking for alternatives to building roads and more roads. More roads means more cars. That’s just not sustainable. We need to be considering options for light rail and public transport, walking and cycling. At the same time it’s imperative we protect our history and our green places in the city

  5. Elaine Hampton, 16. November 2012, 15:29

    Looking at the website mentioned above, these urban design solutions to traffic issues are very impressive.

    Hopefully a solution to the Basin Reserve traffic issue will be as good.

    We look forward to their project being published

  6. Maximus, 16. November 2012, 15:48

    You might think that the most logical thing for NZTA to do would be to pay Richard Reid and take him on as a consultant directly. Certainly it would be the most cost effective. If they paid Reid just a thousandth of the cost of the guestimated $100million build cost of the flyover, that is only one hundred thousand dollars – an absolute bargain for the nation. Build Cost Benefit ratio of the Reid scheme – the benefits are sky high, compared to the costs.

    NZTA – how about it?

  7. Paula Warren, 16. November 2012, 17:34

    Almost anything has to be better than a flyover – which seems to be just a way to spend a lot of money to make sure that we generate more traffic, and ensure that everyone can see and hear all those unnecessary car trips through what should be a lovely part of our city.

    I have’nt yet seen Richard’s design, but I’ve been impressed with some of his earlier work. I would, however, be concerned if one of the NZTA goals it was seeking to achieve was to increase overall road capacity and car journeys. We don’t need that. Wellington has stable or falling traffic volumes across most of the state highway network, and that’s a good thing.

    More traffic doesn’t equal economic growth – it equals inefficient transport.

  8. Alana, 16. November 2012, 22:45

    NZTA plans for the flyover keep changing. It seems even they have no idea how they will meld the roads together. I hope the government takes charge of this tangle of bad design and stops it before it begins.

  9. Cricket fan, 17. November 2012, 9:32

    Good stuff. Let us hope this helps bring about a sensible solution to the Basin Reserve/National War Memorial developement – one that is not destroyed by a roaring flyover

  10. Liz Springford, 17. November 2012, 12:50

    Great to have another option on the table rather than slicing our city with an ugly flyover.

    I echo Paula Warren’s comment that ‘more traffic doesn’t equal economic growth – it equals inefficient transport’.

    The bottom line for all of us is surely decent jobs, warm housing, healthy food, quality education & healthcare, community involvement and knowing that global climate change will be adaptable for us, our kids and grandkids.

    Affordable healthy efficient transport choices are essential to our future wellbeing.

  11. Traveller, 18. November 2012, 10:16

    I agree with Maximus. The Transport Agency should renew their relationship with Richard Reid (already proven in Auckland) and involve him as a consultant to show them why a flyover isn’t needed at the Basin Reserve. Think of the money they’ll save.

  12. Siena, 18. November 2012, 16:13

    Richard Reid should replace that former city councillor aka deputy-mayor of Wellington, NZTA board director Alick Shaw who made that anonymous threat to his former employer back in August 2011.

  13. Alana, 22. November 2012, 21:58

    Reid can’t be expected to work for free. Shouldn’t some government body come up with his fee to ensure that all options are covered. I’ve looked today at the slick marketing being done to sooth legitimate concerns about this wall of concrete. But no amount of trees, foliage, and the proposed contortions will “mitigate” the large scale mistake to which NZTA is irrationally attached.

  14. shopify, 10. August 2015, 23:02

    Appreciate your sharing this one about the Basin. A must read article!