Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Aucklanders & Other Kiwis Blog

Designing Tomorrow’s Tauranga | Carl Lucca of Beca's Design Practice
5 March 2019
Designing Tomorrow’s Tauranga | Carl Lucca of Beca's Design Practice

With 17 year's experience in urban design and planning, Tauranga is lucky to have Carl Lucca helping to look after our city's future growth. 

Originally from Auckland, Carl worked in both the North and South Islands before heading overseas to gain European experience, discovering design principles that work in higher density cities and gaining an appreciation for how these can be applied to create places that people love to live in and visit.

In 2009, Carl and his Swiss-born wife, Ursula, moved to Auckland where they lived, worked and started a family before being tempted down to the good life in Tauranga last year. Part of Beca's Design Practice, Carl is now working closely with Tauranga City Council to apply good design  and planning to help guide Tauranga as it grows into the future.

Here's Carl's story.  

What drew you to study urban design and landscape architecture?

Initially I studied town planning in Auckland and then worked as a policy planner in Queenstown – as an avid snowboarder, it was a perfect mix. During that time, I worked with landscape architects and developers, Darby Partners, and saw how they approached projects from a design-led approach, not simply a policy approach. 

Interested in the overlap between planning and design, I sought out a design degree in Landscape Architecture in Switzerland in 2004. (The fact that my then girlfriend, now wife, was living there may also have had something to do with my choice of study location!) Following that I worked in Dublin as an urban designer.

When I returned to New Zealand, I was keen to solidify the theory behind my experience, so I studied a Masters of Urban Design at Auckland University while working at Beca. I have since worked throughout New Zealand, the Pacific and Australia, and am now a Senior Associate in Beca Tauranga's Design Practice. 

What inspires you in these design disciplines?

The ability to take a design-led approach to urban planning. A design process allows you to further understand a place and the people that live, work and play there – what makes it tick – and then design solutions around local challenges and opportunities.

Can you us about your role in Beca’s Design Practice?

I’m responsible for delivery of a range of projects, including project management and technical inputs for urban design, landscape planning, strategic and policy services. I have experience in a wide range of national and international projects including preparation of urban design frameworks, masterplans, local area and spatial plans, structure plans and design guidelines. 

I love working closely with my teammates and clients to deliver projects relating to the future growth of our towns and cities. New Zealand faces very real challenges in this area, and having the opportunity to work with other planners, urban designers, architects, engineers, the community, tangata whenua and all those other people out there that are passionate about their communities is really rewarding.

I’ve also had the chance to work in the North Pacific helping the Marshall Islands' government move forward with its planning for Ebeye, one of the most populated and challenged urban areas in the world.

What brought you back to New Zealand?

I worked for a well-regarded architecture company in Dublin but when the GFC hit, it hit Ireland hard. While the company I worked for did their best to stay afloat, it slowly reduced in size and eventually closed down. I voluntarily left early on, realising it was a good time to move back to New Zealand where both my wife and I would have greater job security while also being closer to my family. 

How did Tauranga end up on your radar?

Though based in Auckland, I have worked on projects all over the country over the last ten years, in particular in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. In 2016, I got the opportunity to work with Tauranga City Council on their City Centre Spatial Framework – a strategy to support the city centre’s future growth. That project gave me the opportunity to get to know Tauranga better along with our local Beca team. 

When did you first start thinking about moving down here?  

While Auckland has a lot to offer, Ursula and I were missing the mountains and wanted to get the kids closer to nature. Tauranga offered us the opportunity to have the best of both worlds – good career opportunities, close to the ocean in the summer, and skiing in the winter.

Ursula is a nurse and Tauranga offers plenty of opportunities to grow her career. For me staying with Beca was a no-brainer. It's a great company to be part of. As an urban designer and planner, I was also well aware of the growth Tauranga is facing and hoped that I could bring some of my experience from Auckland and abroad to the table here.

We moved down in April 2018 – just in time for that year’s ski season at Mt Ruapehu.

As an urban designer, what do you see as Tauranga’s greatest challenges and opportunities?

Tauranga is facing some big challenges as it continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand while also facing significant geographical constraints. How we work within the existing urban and natural environment is key to how the city grows.

A good balance between allowing for greenfields development in the right places needs to be provided for alongside ongoing opportunity for intensification of existing urban areas – both approaches, supported by a mix of housing choice, sustainable transport and community infrastructure are fundamental to growing a healthy and sustainable city.

It’s also really important that we work closely with the community, including tangata whenua, landowners, the business community and other interested parties, to understand what’s important to them and build those values into our planning as we move forward.

What value do you see that Priority One adds to our city?  

While working with Tauranga City Council, Priority One was one of our key stakeholders, as a representative of the wider business community. Priority One played a key role during workshops and providing feedback on the spatial plan. As an organisation that is supporting economic growth in the region, Priority One brings contemporary and innovative thinking to the table, supporting the future growth of the city. 

How did you benefit from living and working overseas?

Professionally, studying and working in Europe gave me an appreciation for design and planning in highly populated areas. We lived and started our family in apartments and town houses in Switzerland, Dublin and Auckland, and there was always plenty to do in our neighbourhoods, with good quality open spaces and local amenities. Many European countries are years ahead of New Zealand in grappling with issues around sustainable growth, and we can learn a lot from them.

Switzerland is a country of unique cultures – a country the size of Otago, with  eight million people and 26 different Kantons (regions), each Kanton having its own festivals, local laws, local foods and other traditions. For our family, living back in New Zealand, it's important to keep hold of these for our kids. Plus, I love the food!

What do you enjoy about working in Tauranga?

I’ve been really fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time, having gained another opportunity to work with Tauranga City Council, helping plan for the future growth of the city. It’s great, because I get to do what I enjoy doing, while also getting the opportunity to build new relationships with friends and colleagues close to home.

What do you love about living in Tauranga?

Moving to Tauranga has been fantastic for us. Our children have settled really quickly and through work, school and playcentre connections, we have met lots of friendly families with similar interests. We live close to work, which means more time with the family, and you’re never far from the beach.  During our first winter, we joined one of Ruapehu's  ski lodges and got almost 25 days skiing.

What do you do to relax here?

Hanging out with the family – biking local cycleways, hunting crabs around the cost, fishing, hiking and skiing in the winter. And lots of board games during the winter.


Gets You Thinking Doesn't It?

No-one can tell you when you're ready for a change of lifestyle...but when you are, we'd love to have you in Tauranga!

1. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaurangaWelcomesYou

2. Subscribe to our montly e-newsletter to receive stories just like this one about people who have already made the big move you are thinking of making. 

3. Have a story to share? We love sharing your sea-change or homecoming stories. Email me at kathryn@priorityone.co.nz to start a conversation.

Meet Kathryn Overall
Explore www.wishyouwereworkinghere.co.nz


Looking for work in Tauranga?

Send me your CV and a 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesess who are on the lookout for good people. Priority One is not a recruitment agency, but as the economic development agency for the region we seek to make connections for people where we can. There is no charge for this service.

Email me at annie@priorityone.co.nz.

Annie Hill | Priority One
Communications/Project Manager


Contact Priority One

Contact Priority One

Need help?

Send us your 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesses who are on the lookout for good people! info@priorityone.co.nz

Tauranga Welcomes You

Tauranga Welcomes You


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About Kathryn

About Kathryn


Kathryn Overall is the friendly voice behind the 'Wish You Were Working Here' stories and Facebook posts.  Each month she chats with returned Kiwi expats,  Auckland imports and New Zealand immigrants who have moved to Tauranga, collecting their stories and advice to share with you. 

CLICK HERE to read her own story of reluctant homecoming!


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