Archive | Design

Innovation a feature of Nuffield apartments

Yachtsman, entrepreneur, longtime property investor & retired lawyer Charles St Clair Brown had already sold 6 of the 16 apartments in the Nuffield Residences development in Newmarket before it was launched to prospective buyers last week.

The project returns architect Neville Price (pictured above) to prominence as the designer of a building with a number of innovative features – materials & the way they’re used, building & individual apartment designs, right through to trees which will be planted beside balconies up the 10-storey building.

The 2 features he prizes most in an apartment building are privacy & individuality.

Artist’s impression of the Nuffield Residences.

Mr Price’s best-known works from over 40 years ago are the West Plaza tower at the bottom of Albert St in the cbd, built in 1974, and Auckland’s first highrise apartment block, Devon Park, across the harbour at Stanley Point, built in 1967.

Mr Price spent 27 of the intervening years based in California and has employed US techniques to innovate in Auckland. One of those is to incorporate post-stressed concrete, poured onsite (and rarely done in New Zealand highrises): “It’s very much stronger than tilt slab,” he said. “The floors are post-tensioned, doing away with columns – bridges are built that way. It’s a more expensive method of construction but it’s better.”

The technique allows for a thinner floor and extra ceiling height, and improves sound absorption.

The Devon Park development was what took Mr Price to the US. In 1980, an American developer called him after seeing the North Shore building, and although he had one of the biggest practices in the country, Mr Price expressed interest in the US prospects. He lost the first big project because he was heading to take part in the Transpac yacht race, from Los Angles to Honoloulu, but went on to design a number of midrise buildings for Californian company Grosvenor Properties Ltd and worked on the San Francisco downtown masterplan.

Mr Price said large decks had been done in Auckland for individual houses, less so for apartment buildings. At Nuffield Residences (85 Nuffield St), decks can make up as much as a third of an apartment’s floorspace, and their integration includes continuing the kitchen bench out to the balcony & barbecue.

The 2-storey trees to be placed in planters up the tower, which are part of the building design, will be native multi-trunked puka.

The building will be close to the motorway Newmarket viaduct, but Mr Price said noise from it would be no greater than in a street where cars were stopping & starting. Double glazing, full insulation & wing walls would also deflect noise.

The basalt under the small site dictated the limit on basement parking and, instead, the building will have a car lift into the lower floors behind the 2-level apartment taking up the rest of floors 2-3.

The apartments, marketed by Heather Walton of Ray White Epsom, have been priced at $880,000 for a one-bedroom unit, 2 bedrooms starting at $1.25 million net of parking.

Resource consent has been approved and building consent is expected to be issued shortly, enabling a start on construction early next year from completion in the first quarter of 2018.

Attribution: Launch, marketing material.

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Propbd on Q T12Aug14 – Apartment design winner named, East Tamaki unit sells, Strategic payout, Summerset result mixed

S 3 Architects wins brownfields apartment design competition
Small East Tamaki unit sells
Strategic Finance receivers to make first payout within fortnight
Summerset profit up, underlying return down, dividend at low end

S 3 Architects wins brownfields apartment design competition

S 3 Architects Ltd (Stephen Smith; design at right) has won the Institute of Architects’ competition to design an apartment building for a brownfield Mt Eden site, which attracted 67 entries.

The competition was launched by Ockham Residential Ltd director Mark Todd after discussions with architects about affordable construction 2 years ago.

The other finalists were Leuschke Group Architects Ltd, Matthews & Matthews Architects Ltd, Waterfall Gunns Lowe Architects Ltd and Andrew Sexton Architecture Ltd.

Small East Tamaki unit sells

A small East Tamaki warehouse & office unit was sold at $3000/m² at Colliers International’s auction today. A 1970s New Lynn warehouse & showroom was passed in. Auction results:

East Tamaki, 14 Basalt Place, unit 13, sold for $1.95 million at $3000/m², sales agent Jolyon Thomson
New Lynn, 12 Bentinck St, passed in at $800,000, Chris Upright

Strategic Finance receivers to make first payout within fortnight

Strategic Finance Ltd’s receivers, John Fisk & Colin McCloy of PWC, have received the first settlement payment from the company’s former directors & auditors – $10 million of the total $22 million – and will make a distribution to secured investors in the next 2 weeks.

The other 2 instalments, each of $6 million, are to be paid at the end of this month and in November.

Summerset profit up, underlying return down, dividend at low end

Summerset Group Holdings Ltd said today its net profit after tax for the June half rose 42% to $15.3 million, but its underlying profit fell 6%, from $10 million to $9.4 million. Total assets rose 21% to $921 million.

Sales of occupation rights rose 3% to 195, and the company delivered 136 new retirement units, up 33%.

Summerset’s dividend policy is to pay out 30-50% of underlying profit. The 1.4c/share interim dividend equates to 32%.

Attribution: Auction, PWC & Summerset releases.

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Move to compact succeeding, mayor says as he launches Brickworks construction

Auckland mayor Len Brown said on Friday he expected apartments & terrace houses to comprise 50% of consents for new homes in the region by the end of this year.

That would set Auckland well on its way to meeting intensification targets written into the council’s overarching Auckland Plan, which proposed a 70:40 split between development in established areas & greenfields, with a 10% margin for excess greenfields housing.

Mr Brown was talking before turning the first sod to start construction for the 60-unit Brickworks apartment & townhouse block at Hobsonville Point, which passed 60% sold when the 37th contract was signed shortly before the mayor spoke. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2015.

Mayor Len Brown: a bumper year for building consents.

Mayor Len Brown: a bumper year for building consents.

Mr Brown said 2014 would be a bumper year for building consents in Auckland, with approvals for about 7000 new homes expected in the June 2014 year, twice the total for the June 2012 year: “It’s clear that we are entering a growth phase for Auckland home building. Over the next few years Aucklanders will see a lot more building activity across the region, with a good mix of apartments, terraced houses & standalone houses.

“This boost in residential construction has been helped by strong economic growth, greater certainty for developers and improvements to the council’s consenting processes.

“I have been really impressed by the work of our consenting teams. Although volumes are much higher than previous years, the building & resource consent teams have continued to perform at 95%, at least, of consents processed within statutory timeframes.”

Highlights included:

  • More than 6300 building consents were granted last year in Auckland, up 38% on the previous year  & double the year before
  • Resource consents (distinct from building consents for individual homes) continue to increase – up from 12,000 in 2011-12, 13,000 in 2012-13 and, at the current growth rate, expected to top 14,000 in 2013-14
  • The resource consents issued will result in a significant increase in new dwellings being built – more than 20,000 new lots have been approved as part of resource consents issued in the last 6 months
  • Apartments are becoming a larger proportion of new homes – in December alone in Auckland, consents were granted for 397 new apartments, and over the last 6 months consents for 1918 new apartments were granted.

Hobsonville Point has been highly successful as a compact development – smaller sections for standalone homes, and now an outer-suburban apartment & townhouse development round a quadrangle, one side with a row of apartments above 2-level townhouses, 4 & 5 levels on the other sides.

Tasman Cook Ltd’s release of 1-3-bedroom units of 40-90m² was priced at $349-499,000. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2015. Over the whole first stage of the 167ha Hobsonville Point, the Buckley precinct, the Housing NZ Corp-owned developer, Hobsonville Land Co Ltd, has had 300 homes built in the first 2 years and now has capacity to build 250-300/year.

“We’re going at a pace now which I call optimum,” Hobsonville Land commercial manager Mark Fraser said. “We’re releasing enough product for our 5 building partners.”

The Brickworks project will have cafes, a medical centre & convenience retail in 13 shops around the ground floor and is across the road from the subdivision’s new secondary school, amenities guaranteed to increase interest in the residential units, but Hobsonville Land chief executive Chris Aiken believes the restyling of apartments was an important factor: “Part of the reluctance with the apartment model was the ‘egg crate’ model. This is 4 buildings, spreading from 3 storeys to 5 and containing what we call hidden density – the 2-level townhouses with apartments on top, adding homes without the feeling of being dominated. That’s a great concept for the Auckland market.

“This is done in Vancouver & London, but we haven’t seen it here. The high point of Brickworks is across the road from the school, and also across from a park.”

Apart from care about how passing pedestrians might view developments, Mr Fraser sustainability was built into everything done at Hobsonville Point: “Homes here use about 30% less energy & water than the Auckland average, and we’re getting good reports on the community value of it.

“We’re putting the infrastructure in early – the development community often fails to do that. It allows us to do something like Brickworks, which is a little different in the Auckland context but shows Auckland is maturing.”

The mayor wasn’t surprised at the rapid signup for Brickworks, because he believed Auckland was starting on a significant transformation toward providing more choices. It was a stark contrast to 1965, when his family moved into Otara. That new suburb had no infrastructure ready for the new arrivals.

AV Jennings Ltd project director Rod Chadwick confirmed the change in approach: “Brickworks is a key component of the overall vision for Hobsonville Point, which is about providing a variety of dwelling styles. In developing the Buckley precinct, the bottom line for us is that the quality of your new home & the community environment is not compromised, no matter what the price is.”

Brickworks takes its name from the pipe & brick manufacturing industry established at Limeburners Bay at Hobsonville in the 1850s, which went on to become the original site of the Crown Lynn pottery business.

In top photo: Tasman Cook director Leonard Ross, AV Jennings project director Rod Chadwick, mayor Len Brown, Hobsonville Point’s commercial manager Mark Fraser & chief executive Chris Aiken, standing behind the Brickworks model at Friday’s sod-turning.

Links: Brickworks
Hobsonville Point

Attribution: Sod-turning.

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Shore council settles on minimum apartment sizes, still to go to notification

Published 21 July 2010

North Shore City Council’s strategy & finance committee settled yesterday on minimum apartment sizes which should ensure nothing cheap is built in the city.


However, statistics produced for the committee yesterday also indicate huge potential for change on the Shore – half the population rattles round in large homes, 1-2 occupants to a house, the population aging & looking at downsizing, but with nothing small to move to apart from retirement villages.


The size limits set yesterday will restrict studios to 35m² in 2 centres and, after amendment, nothing under 45m² will be able to be built elsewhere.


There are some catches to what in the end was a fairly arbitrary exercise, based largely on councillors’ personal preferences. First, any plan change based on yesterday’s decision has to go out to consultation. Second, that will mean a final decision isn’t made by this council but by the new Auckland Council, which will take over from the Auckland Regional Council & 7 territorial councils in the region on 1 November. Third, there are some differences between the North Shore proposal and those already in operation in Auckland City, and a new council might see no reason to be inconsistent.


The Shore council committee returned to ruling on apartment sizes after deliberating in April on minimums for Highbury and the Anzac West precinct of Takapuna. The debate ended in April with councillors noting an inconsistency between sizes proposed for the 2 medium-intensity zones and wanting a report from staff on the subject.


The staff report


They got clear guidelines for their July meeting from senior planner Simon O’Connor, who set out tables showing existing rules, what was proposed in April, Auckland City Council’s cbd & isthmus minimums and several examples from around the world.


Mr O’Connor set out the case for recommended minimums “and the relationship with providing an appropriate mixture of units within our town centres”.


He said the Shore hadn’t experienced Auckland City’s flood of smaller units, built to accommodate a large influx of foreign students and because investor demand was for smaller units. While Auckland City had introduced proportions of developments which could be studios or one-bedroom units, he said the Shore district plan encouraged development of 2- or 3-bedroom units, due to controls on density & parking minimums.


Mr O’Connor said planning staff considered studios were appropriate in the larger sub-regional centres of Albany & Takapuna as they had a strong education & training presence and a consequential demand for student accommodation along with better public transport links.


A feature of the Shore which Mr O’Connor emphasised was that the population is aging & lacking mobility, “therefore there will be a likely need for them to downsize existing living arrangements whilst staying within their community…..


“Information from Statistics NZ illustrates that, in 2006, 50.2% of the population of the North Shore live either by themselves or with one other person, yet only 21.7% of the housing stock within the North Shore is of the 1-2-bedroom size.”


Mr O’Connor said many homes could be considered to be under-occupied, and the provision of smaller units within the centres would help offset the lack of smaller units in the suburbs. It would provide housing choice & affordability for younger generations and enable older residents to stay in their communities if they downsized.


“North Shore City, through the current density controls, effectively discourages smaller housing options. Once a person has a section, it is almost inconceivable that they would build a one- or 2-bedroom house unless it was a minor unit associated with a larger dwelling. These controls have led to a shortage of smaller & more affordable forms of privately owned accommodation.”


Mr O’Connor a balance was needed between the market & maintaining diverse communities: “On one hand, it would not be prudent to flood parts of our city with small apartments. On the other hand, it is desirable to offer housing choice for families or mixed household groups to be able to live in areas that they enjoy, rather than be pushed out of the city.


“Apart living in North Shore City is unlikely to be cheap, with one-bedroom apartments likely to start at around $300,000, but they offer a realistic alternative to a larger house in the suburbs that may have limited appeal due to travel distances & a lack of centre conveniences.”


Recommendation & decisions


Mr O’Connor recommended minimum sizes for Albany & Takapuna of 35m² for studios, but said studios were inappropriate elsewhere. For all centres, he recommended a minimum of 40m² for one bedroom, 55m² for 2 bedrooms, 70m² for 3 bedrooms, with an extra 6m² minimum for balconies.


The previous proposal for Highbury was 40m² for a studio, 45m² for one bedro

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Manukau proposes same apartment size guide as Auckland

Published 9 February 2010

Manukau City Council has adopted the same basics as Auckland City Council introduced 5 years ago for its draft residential apartment design guide.


The Manukau council put its draft guide out for consultation today (with no closing date for feedback). It will hold a workshop for developers & others interested in the guide on Wednesday 17 February at 6pm in the Manukau Civic Centre gallery.


The proposed minimum sizes are:


studio, 35m²one bedroom, 45m²2 bedrooms, 70m²3 bedrooms, 90m².


The Auckland council introduced those sizes for its Victoria Quarter plan introduced in 2005, made operative September 2008 and subsequently followed across the central area. As in Auckland, a 5m² reduction is allowed for studios & one-bedroom units if they have a balcony of at least 5m², and an 8m² reduction for 2 bedrooms-plus if there’s a balcony of 8m²-plus.


Other proposed conditions include:


Minimum apartment mix, in any one apartment building containing more than 20 units, the combined number of one-bedroom units & studios can’t exceed 70% of the total number of apartments within the buildingMinimum daylight standards.


The Manukau design guide also includes privacy, building appearance & parking recommendations.


Workshop RSVP: [email protected]


Link: Manukau apartment design guide


Want to comment? Go to the forum.


Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Good apartment solutions get Property Council support, offer Darby an opportunity to promote new partnerships

Published 16 March 2007

The Good solutions guide for apartments, launched by North Shore City Council yesterday, has a feature which should appeal to a wider building & planning audience: It is, as the deputy chief executive of the Ministry for the Environment, Lindsay Gow (right), put it, “not written in code”.

It doesn’t spend time giving examples of what’s bad, except for a couple of mildly adverse comments in the section on case studies. The focus is on the positive – how to improve, with objectives, better design practice, rules of thumb and, importantly, places to go for further information.

The guide will be available at councils’ offices (other councils & organisations have contributed to the guide) and is available online at the North Shore City Council’s website.

The launch of the 135-page guide was the occasion for a statement of strong support from the Property Council and an exhortation on better design for a compact city from North Shore’s political urban design champion, Cllr Chris Darby.

Turnaround for property industry

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend wondered how many were going to read a prescriptive guide, then found when he picked it up it was highly readable, well illustrated: “It’s a corker.”

Mr Townsend said a few short years ago he’d have lost his job at the Property Council for supporting this kind of idea, but now the council – the organisation for developers, property professionals & institutional investors – was strongly behind new building solutions.

“They’re over their laissez-faire approach of the 80s.” Now, he said, “too many of my members are saying there are too many bad developments. Many of them have studied urban design principles. There’s only one reason for that: It’s a good thing.

“The attitude of the big investors is, if average New Zealanders have a super policy, it’s highly probable some of this investment is going to be in commercial property. You want to get the best return for your investment. It follows, cities must be sustainable.

“If cities start to fall away, they become a poor place to invest and you’re not going to get a good return. That’s why we’re so passionate about this document & urban design principles.”

Mr Townsend said “there are still some ratbag developers out there – they don’t belong to the Property Council. Maybe they think we‘ve become namby-pamby about this urban design stuff but they’re wrong, they’re very wrong.”

Darby: It’s not about jamming people into tight spaces

Mr Darby said: “If you look around the North Shore, around Auckland, we are in need of tools to assist us. The guide is a design educator. It’s going to take us a long way to avoiding mistakes of the past. It’s not about jamming people into tight spaces.”

He said the compact-city approach challenged the quarter-acre mindset, there was still a place for outlying suburbs but not for unthinking sprawl, and not for ill-thought intensification.

“Concern about apartments has not been helped by the delivery of many poor design outcomes which litter the Auckland region. What needs to be acknowledged is that the development community provides for a market with an insatiable appetite for residential space but with little understanding or regard for the shortcomings of lifestyle offered in that living space…..

“The compact-city model of intensification around transport nodes & town centres is essential, but the design paradigm needs to change if we are to deliver distinctive environments for a range of users. The attraction of less car dependency, a vibrant public realm, home security, no lawns to mow, low maintenance costs and a bus at the nearest corner needs to be reinforced by enduring design. Design becomes even more important for apartments because we are sharing it with active streets busy with people.

“Smart design within a compact model has the potential to save people costs of living of more than 20%. Living adjacent to one’s place of work, learning & socialising frees up incomes to allow spending on quality of life rather than on the 60-minute commute. As motorists begin to feel the true cost of commuting through tolls, cordon charging, parking charges, spiralling fuel prices, impending fuel taxes & lost time, apartment living will become more desirable & more affordable.

“Apartment living minimises our ecological footprint and is one solution to addressing climate change. Land-use efficiency through consolidation around urban villages has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases and meet our climate-change targets more significantly than converting to blended biofuels.

“Inefficient land use by allowing splatter & sprawl at the edge of the region is an outdated development pattern. Cities which persevere with sprawl today will become administrators of automobile slums tomorrow, where residents are destined to spending a litre of fuel to buy a litre of milk. The suburban model is not necessarily redundant but the sprawl model should be immediately put out to pasture.

“The future is not about wider roads, but we can be smarter about unblocking our arterials and alleviating choking vehicle emissions. Connecting communities remote from their place of work can simultaneously disconnect communities through which widened arterials pass. Road widening could go on a diet and accessible street design, integrated public transport, walking & cycling merit fattened budgets.

“Neither is the future about parking. The region’s district plans require review of obsolete town-centre parking provisions. Where residents & businesses are located near to the rapid-transit network, demand for car use & parking is less. Therefore parking maximums rather than minimums should apply. In some cases it will be entirely appropriate for the maximum to be zero, for example in the case of a studio apartment. It is not an efficient use of a scarce land resource to demand the equivalent of half of the apartment’s floor area be set aside for parking & car courts. Ignoring the need for change in parking provisions only reinforces our well embedded car addiction and every parked car waits for an already congested road.

“It’s time for a dramatic shift in thinking when projects are scoped & briefed. The ‘quick buck’ approach of constructing low-quality apartments thin on amenity needs to be supplanted by one of establishing a sense of place, laying the foundation stones for a real community and leaving a legacy for future generations. Total costs need to be considered and profits can be shared. Monetary profits for the developer and social profits for the communities they leave behind.

“We all have a duty to play our part in ensuring quality apartments with memorable living spaces are designed & built. The development community is our partner in ensuring there is a shift in the design paradigm, planning & actions.

It’s time too for politicians & key decision-makers to step up to the plate. We’re the people we’ve been waiting for, we need to be courageous, we need to inspire minds and win hearts by ensuring apartment living & quality of life can be synonymous. The Good solutions guide for apartments helps provide that impetus.”

Website: North Shore City Council, Good solutions guide for apartments


Earlier stories:

6 March 2007: Good solutions guide for apartments launched next week

18 September 2005: Darby gets role of Shore urban design champion

5 June 2003: North Shore snapshot, week to 8 June 2003


Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email [email protected].


Attribution: Book launch, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Good solutions guide for apartments launched next week

Published 5 March 2007

North Shore City Council will launch its Good solutions guide for apartments next week – the fourth in a series begun in 2001 and aimed at increasing the quality of the built environment.

The guide is based on the principle that, through design, the quality of everyone’s life can be improved. The apartments guide follows Good solutions guides for terraced housing, heritage housing and mixed-use development in town centres.

Council strategic management committee chairman Gary Holmes said the guide would be used by developers, designers & other professionals, as well as council planners & decisionmakers. The Ministry for the Environment uses the guides in urban design courses for planners, policymakers, designers & the construction industry.

The series has been produced in conjunction with Auckland, Waitakere, Manukau City & Auckland Regional councils and the Ministry for the Environment.

“Apartment-style living is a viable option for long-term housing for the people in our urban areas, but we need to make sure we’re happy with how they are designed. The design & appearance of apartment developments contributes to the character of a neighbourhood,” Cllr Holmes said.

He said this guide, like the earlier ones, wasn’t mandatory. “However, many councils, especially signatories to the urban design protocol, will rely heavily on it when assessing applications for apartment developments.”

The Shore council will launch the new guide on Thursday 15 March.

18 September 2005: Darby gets role of Shore urban design champion


Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email [email protected].


Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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