Conference paper


Although the service hub concept is most commonly associated with deprived areas of the North American inner city, similar clusters of facilities can also be found in other contexts. In this paper, we conceptualise urban campgrounds in Auckland, New Zealand as small-scale service hubs for long-term residents as well as more transient recreational campers, and explore their precarious and resilient qualities. Building on research into caravan park occupancy in Brisbane, we examine the contemporary geography of Auckland’s campgrounds, based on narratives from field research at eight urban campgrounds. First, given pressures for closure and conversion to housing, we document why campgrounds are a precarious form of urbanism. We present them as an ephemeral form of settlement for longer-term residents (by virtue of the informality of their tenure); a tenuous foothold in the city for recreational campers (by virtue of limited spaces and uncertainty of future operations); and a marginal land use as an urban space in their own right (by virtue of pressure for conversion to higher and ‘better’ use). Second, we conceptualise campgrounds as service hubs, and consider how this may provide a basis for their resilience. Specifically, they offer a relatively low-cost way to inhabit the city, combined with both formal and informal social supports. Such a combination is especially critical for residents, who may otherwise be at risk of homelessness. Urban campgrounds take on added importance for those marginalised by the diminishing provisions of the welfare state and the over-inflated housing market of Australasian Pacific Rim cities.

Publication Details
Peer Reviewed: 
Published year only: 
Subject Areas