Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Top architects use their blocks

From left, S3 Architects, Matthews & Matthews Architects, Waterfall Gunns Lowe Architects.
From left, S3 Architects, Matthews & Matthews Architects, Waterfall Gunns Lowe Architects.

Hate apartment blocks? Then take a closer look at these five, shortlisted in a competition to win over Aucklanders sceptical about their city's intensification.

Auckland Council, the NZ Institute of Architects and developer Ockham Residential launched the results of the apartment design competition to convince Aucklanders of the benefits of good blocks.


Matthews & Matthews Architects.

But Richard Burton of anti-intensification lobby group Auckland 2040 doubted the scheme would work and said the council had only acted because it was suffering a public backlash against the Unitary Plan.

Institute president Pip Cheshire said concepts for a Mt Eden site had drawn 64 entries and all would go on display at the Auckland Art Gallery from Sunday to Tuesday.

The competition and exhibition were "opportunities to inform the public about a housing type that is needed in New Zealand's largest city but which has encountered some scepticism", Mr Cheshire said.


S3 Architects.

Five finalists have been chosen, designing one and two-bedroom apartments in 25-unit blocks of six to seven levels with compact balconies, floor-to-ceiling glazing, apartments often clearly delineated on the exterior and with the use of natural materials such as timber.

Mr Burton said he doubted Auckland would get masses of stylish units and fears monolithic blocks rising in low-rise suburban neighbourhoods.


Waterfall Gunns Lowe Architects.

"The council asking for trust is like a crocodile smile. Auckland is replete with badly designed apartments and to suddenly say 'trust us, we're only going to get high-quality designs' flies in the face of Auckland's history."

After researching submissions from developers to the proposed Unitary Plan, Mr Burton said it was scary what they were asking for.


Leuschke Group.

Entrants designed the schemes for Akepiro St, a cul-de-sac overlooking the railway line near the Dominion Rd flyover. This site is in the council's Special Housing Area, earmarked for fast-track intensive building.

Mr Cheshire said: "A range of well-designed, infill residential projects is vital to promote community understanding and acceptance of higher density in selected urban areas, which is one of the aims of the proposed Unitary Plan," he said.

Mayor Len Brown said: "There will be one million extra Aucklanders within the next 30 years. We have to ensure affordable, quality, sustainable housing options for our growing population if we are to continue on the path to becoming the world's most liveable city. ... I applaud everyone who has taken part in this competition for being part of that solution."


Andrew Sexton Architecture.

Ockham director Mark Todd said: "Everyone knows the pressures on the housing market ... but we think there needs to be a wider conversation about the quality of new homes and buildings that go up in the city."

Design competition
• Five finalists have been chosen designing one and two-bedroom apartments in 25-unit blocks of six to seven levels with compact balconies, floor-to-ceiling glazing, apartments often clearly delineated on the exterior and with the use of natural materials such as timber.
• Shortlisted designs: Leuschke Group Architects, S3 Architects, Matthews & Matthews Architects, Waterfall Gunns Lowe Architects and Andrew Sexton Architecture.
• Judges: chairman Richard Goldie (PeddleThorp Architects), Maggie Carroll (Bureaux Architects), Marshall Cook (Cook Sargisson Pirie), Mark Todd (Ockham Residential), Jacques Victor (Auckland Council).
• Exhibition: at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki from Sunday till Tuesday.

- NZ Herald

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