Caitlin Hartnett-Poelman


Landscape Architecture

Curious Landscapes

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Set around Lower Hutt’s river – Te Awakairangi, this project challenged us to design across a 7km site whilst attempting to retain the connection to the on-the-ground user experience. Through on-site explorations and documentation I developed an inquiry into how the Hutt River can foster a greater sense of curiosity to attract people to the river and engage them within the site.

The existing landscape is monotonous site consisting of river-edge planting, vast open grass areas, and homogenous pathways. This linear formula does not foster a great sense of curiosity as it separates people from the river and confines movement to straight longitudinal paths which is disconnected from how people want to use the site. My approach attempted to find moments of curiosity within the landscape. Curiosity is that sense of wonder and intrigue you get when exploring and can be broken down into the physical relationships of one’s movement direction, the pathway orientation within the landscape, the ground surface angle and materiality, and vegetation massing.

I first mapped a typology of the on-the-ground experience of walking along the existing site and from this was able to identify the areas where there were moments of curiosity. Patterns began to emerge which highlighted that movements from ‘boring’, homogenous areas (e.g. vast open grass spaces) into stimulating, engaging areas (e.g. enclosed vegetated spaces that connect you to the river) drew users from within their own minds, back into the landscape.

This acquired knowledge informed the design approach where I selected areas that provided the opportunity to connect surrounding neighbourhoods to the river and stimulate their sense of curiosity within the site to encourage greater use of these spaces.


Caitlin Hartnett-Poelman


Peter Connolly


LAND 412 Landscape Architecture Design Studio VI / Te Taupuni Mahi Pokepoke, Whakarākei hoki i a Papa-tūā-nuku VI



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