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Architectural design student Georgia Pope has won the 2021 New Zealand Institute of Architects Southern Branch Student Award for a concept that envisages restoring a wetland at Forbury Park Raceway and the adjacent Kettle Park.
The Kaituna Wetland proposal would collect and hold excess water using natural filtration, creating a healthy wetland to help reduce the risk of flooding in nearby residential areas.
It would also utilise extensive native planting to help protect St Kilda and St Clair beaches from erosion, including restoring Kettle Park to natural sand dunes to protect the wetland from sea swells.
"Recovering the former ecological and landscape values of the wetland would reduce flooding and mitigate the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels," Ms Pope said.
"My design allows for water to come in from either end of Forbury and a backflow valve releases the water out to the ocean when a certain water level is reached."
As well as paths and boardwalks, her design includes a community centre comprising a series of connected and standalone spaces for scientific, educational, recreational and retail purposes.
She said it took several months to research this area of South Dunedin, previously a large wetland called Kaituna.
After European settlement, Kaituna was drained and reclaimed for farming and then urban development.
"My design then took another 3-4 months, most of which focused around landscape and environment and then integrating the buildings within that context. Wetlands are complex ecological systems."
Comprised of fresh water from the Caversham hills and tidal seawater from Otago Harbour, Kaituna was a habitat for native birds, fish and plants. It was a significant hunting and gathering area for many generation of Maori.