The intention of Make Believe: Imagining a new park for New Lynn was to generate novel approaches to public engagement for the design of an urban park. Located in New Lynn, a suburb of west Auckland, the park will be situated within a medium-density housing development occupying the former site of the Crown Lynn factory, a ceramics manufacturer widely known in New Zealand for its iconic table and decorative ware. Crown Lynn was a large employer, and part of the New Lynn social fabric, from the 1940’s until the factory closure in 1989.
Make Believe adopted a spatial, material and performative approach to imagining a novel condition—a future ‘urban park’. Many conventional consultation methods are constrained by the ‘already known’, the survey questionnaire for example presumes a pre-conceived range of possibilities: Should we allow dogs? Should we include a playground?
In Make Believe the potential of the unknown was instead approached through a series of episodic live events, each allowing for a fleeting and propositional manifestation of this future park to emerge. Make Believe applied performative means to generate exchanges of knowledge of public urban space—how it might be shaped and used, what importance and meaning it might hold for specific communities in a suburb where the demographics are rapidly shifting. Make Believe, as the name suggests, draws on our playful capacity to ‘make things up’, to pretend and to therefore imagine places differently.
Alongside the event programme a Make Believe headquarters (MBHQ) was established in a vacant shop. Open for almost one year, the MBHQ operated as a drop-in centre where information and documentation from Make Believe projects was accumulated and displayed, and where informal conversations with residents were held.