Even the courtyard apartments will have a view at a new apartment complex under way in Ellerslie.

Element will sit on a prime corner site near the top of a hill and, to give buyers an idea of the outlook a temporary viewing tower has been erected.

As you climb the tower, the views expand. Where the rooftop terrace and residents' lounge will be, the view is a full 360 degrees, taking in Manukau Harbour, Mt Wellington, the Coromandel and Waiheke Island and panning across Rangitoto and the Sky Tower.

Ellerslie village and its cafes and shops are only a few minutes down the hill, there's quick access to motorways, and the train station is only a short walk away. The other option is to stroll across the road to the bus stop.

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An important part of Element — so named because of the use of natural materials and the focus on sustainability — is about creating community, says Jim Castiglione, managing director of Urban Resort, the development company behind the project.

Though all the apartments will have a private deck/balcony, they also have access to the rooftop which will have a large timber deck and covered lounge, making it a great amenity for residents.

"There's a place for people to sit and experience the view while they're upstairs out of the wind and rain, and if it's a great day, they can go outside and sit on the deck and enjoy it from outside."

Jim says the view will be unlike anything else in Ellerslie. "If you look around you really can't get this view from any of the other elevated positions."

What Urban Resort is doing, he says, is bringing together excellence in design along with quality in terms of living spaces and native landscaping, plus affordability and sustainability.

There is a "genuine" spaciousness with the one- and two-bedroom apartments, the antithesis, he says, of the stereotypical CBD shoebox apartments. And the pricing is about 30 per cent less than the median house price in Ellerslie.

The aim is to showcase compliance with the Unitary Plan and he says because of Urban Resort's strong track record the company is fortunate to be one of Auckland Council's 50 key accounts, alongside big companies such as Vector and NZTA.

Element has taken regard of development historically in Ellerslie, hence its combination of natural materials.

Tilt slab concrete block and clay bricks, for example, will retain warmth when it's cold and keep the apartments cool when it's hot.

Instead of a long monolith building, the design is broken into two three-level buildings (with a living roof lobby in between) to give a dynamic aspect.

The structure will also follow the gradient of the hill. This is partly to fit in with the typography and the elevation — but also to enable for an innovative and comprehensive water management system.

Jim says initially there were no storm water connections to this address or to nearby properties which meant rainfall simply ran down the hill.

At first that looked like an obstacle, but it ended up presenting an opportunity to achieve a sustainable outcome.

Now rainwater will be collected in underground tanks and separated for re-use, and between 400 to 500sq m of solar panels will provide energy for common areas, "so we've got a comprehensive solution around sustainable elements that give rise to the name Element".

Urban Resort, which worked with Australasian architects Peddle Thorp, wanted the interiors to embody natural materials as well — even the concrete stone bench tops in the designer kitchens are individually made.

"It's important to have a touchstone of real quality in our materials and the overall style and contemporary feel of each living space," says Jim.

"If you look at the layout we start from the position that's all about light and airiness, spaciousness and creating privacy.

"We have a wonderful location and elevation and that drove the layouts.

"You get a nice entrance into the lounge and kitchen areas and then you get great views from every area that is a living space, including the bedrooms."

A lot of interest has come from people who live within a 2km radius of the site, who are downsizing their homes but upsizing their views, he says.

There have been young couples, professionals, trades people, empty nesters, retirees and singles showing interest "so it's a full range of the entire demographic".

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