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State housing, characterised by the old ‘pavlova paradise’ three bed home, has been a part of the New Zealand suburban landscape since the middle of the last century.

However, the country has changed dramatically since the bulk of these homes were built, meaning that in both property size and land use these homes are now poorly matched to contemporary demand.

Nowhere does this ring truer than in Auckland, where state housing accounts for over 6% of existing residential land supply. Housing New Zealand is therefore redefining its portfolio across the region, making better use of its existing 1400 hectare footprint to better serve its own customers and contribute to the Auckland Plan vision of a compact, thriving city.

The Corporation currently has over 1000 new homes across Auckland either completed or under construction, with a further 3000 potential new homes currently being evaluated. The vast majority of these new homes are being delivered through the intensification of existing brownfield sites – one-size fits all standalone homes being replaced by a mix of typologies that not only meet tenant demand but contribute to the development of healthy, mixed communities.

Recognising the profound influence redevelopment of this scale will have on the city of the future, Housing New Zealand has published its Simple Guide to Urban Design and Development. At the heart of the document, and its associated toolkit for architects, is a commitment to create urban design outcomes not just for social housing tenants, but for the wider communities that they form part of.

One such brownfield redevelopment underway is in Daventry Street, Waterview. The site is in a Special Housing Area (SHA) comprising three adjoining houses arranged as one or two-bedroom duplexes. While combining the six individual sections has created a developable area of almost 3500 sqm, its corner location has given rise to an unusual diamond shape with very little street frontage (see Figure 1). According to the project architects, Monk Mackenzie, “this presented challenges in respect of connectivity and isolation, as well as opportunities in respect of community building, socialisation and place-making.”

The architectural response has been to open the centre of the site to create spatial separation and a central focus to this micro-community. Importantly this will also allow the homes to absorb the north and north-western sun in the afternoons.

The seventeen new homes will be a mixture of housing typologies to better fit with contemporary demand and will consist of ten 2-bedroom units, five 3-bedroom units and two 4-bedroom units (see Figure 2).

An essential part of the design brief was to ensure good living outcomes for residents including security, privacy and quiet enjoyment, as well as observing good proportions of height in relation to boundary with the neighbouring properties. The new homes have also been designed to complement the existing look of the surrounding community. In this way, the Daventry Street redevelopment, as with the Corporation’s other redevelopment projects will be ‘tenure blind’ in so far as people will not be able to distinguish its houses from privately-owned housing.

Housing New Zealand Corporation’s intention through its redevelopment programme is to contribute toa thriving city by creating enduring mixed-use communities. Good progress is being made towards this objective, which has also seen the Corporation working with Auckland Council’s Housing Project Office to streamline its consenting processes pursuant to the provisions of Auckland’s Housing Accord. One of the biggest constraints however has been that existing stormwater systems frequently do not have the capacity to cope with the added volumes from intensified sites. However, with good design and a focus on collaborative team work, the Corporation’s redevelopment projects are proceeding at pace to deliver better social housing outcomes across Auckland.

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Figure 1: The project site at Daventry Street with the three existing houses containing six units
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Figure 2: An artist’s impression of the new Daventry Street development

The redevelopment of three Housing New Zealand duplex properties into 17 sustainable, modern homes of varying size to meet social housing demand.

Last modified: September 21, 2015

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