Isthmus

Tūhono Tāmaki.
Tāmaki Redevelopment.

Approach

Tāmaki – the area occupied by modern-day Panmure, Glen Innes and Point England, was home to over 10,000 Māori prior to the arrival of European settlers. This thriving community was sustained by the plentiful seafood of the Tāmaki estuary and the fertile soils of Maungarei/Mt Wellington. Today, Tāmaki is more often associated with the State housing initiatives of the 1930’s-50’s, which have left a visible imprint on both the land and the people. The vibrant community has struggled with deprivation and much of the State housing stock is in a poor state of repair.

The redevelopment of Tāmaki is the largest urban regeneration project in New Zealand. It will deliver over 7,500 new homes over a projected 20-year timeframe. In late 2016 Tāmaki Redevelopment Company called for proposals from development partners to deliver the first phase of development including over 2,500 homes. The regeneration focuses on four key areas: Social Transformation, Economic Development, Place making and Housing Supply.

Framework
The proposed redevelopment masterplan replaces 837 existing state houses with over 2,500 new dwellings within a masterplan framework derived from the uniqueness of living in Tāmaki – its history, people, culture and future. The masterplan makes significantly more efficient and democratic use of land, proposes new linkages to help ‘stitch’ neighbourhoods together, and redefines relationships between housing, streets and public open spaces to offer much-improved safety and amenity.

Isthmus were a key member of the ‘Tūhono Tāmaki’ consortium, led by Fletcher Residential Living. Working in a collaborative team we embarked upon developing a masterplan that is grounded in the place and people of Tāmaki. Through a series of design workshops we identified a number of constraints, but also huge opportunities for improvement.

Key Moves
Running east-west through the site, and close to Glen Innes town centre, the Omaru stream is of significance to local Iwi as a former food source. Restoring the spirit and mana of the waterway, which is currently degraded by pollution, is a key concern of the local community. The opening up the Omaru stream corridor celebrates the stream as a natural and public open space asset, linking Glen Innes town centre through to a large area of coastal open space in Point England reserve.
Celebrate the edge with a north-face public promenade overlooking the stream corridor. To the north, new street insertions into the distinctive curvilinear street pattern link reserves together and offer much-improved East-West connectivity.

Connectivity
As a team we reviewed streets, movement and travel, use of public open spaces, and natural amenity to arrive at a cohesive and integrated set of design principles underpinning the structure of the masterplan. New linkages were proposed to better connect residential neighbourhoods with the Town Centre and to aid pedestrian and cycle travel as an alternative to private vehicle use.

Rowena
We opted to move development back from the existing open space boundary, freeing up public open space at a pinch point in the Omaru stream corridor. Increased density along this edge mitigates the loss of developable land and adds value through maximising amenity. The built form provides a clearly defined edge to the public open space, with a high degree of surveillance, over public pathways for improved safety. Moving the built form back allows the stream to ‘breathe’ and provides space to successfully mitigate the sloping contour along the stream bank.

Masterplan
The masterplan was organised into a framework of 22 Distinct neighbourhoods. One key aspect of our role was analysing each neighbourhood – opportunities, constraints, movement, local amenities, and formulating appropriate built form responses.

Housing is never just housing in our minds – it must relate to its context and complement the intent of the masterplan to be truly effective and integrated. For instance, popular high-traffic routes to and from schools were designed to be ‘walk streets’ offering increased safety for the high numbers of school-age children within the community.

Houses facing these streets featured porches and generous glazing for visibility and a sense of connection, while vehicular traffic and garaging was located off laneways at the rear of properties. The removal of driveways from front yards offers increased safety, greater social interaction, and improved streetscape amenity, promoting more journeys by foot or cycle.

Landholdings
Preparing a residential masterplan within fragmented land ownership means that within each neighbourhood, landholdings vary. In some cases, multiple existing lots can be amalgamated to form superlots whose dimensions will support a variety of development outcomes. On smaller landholdings we investigated a number of development scenarios that are possible within fixed lot dimensions of one, two or more existing lots. These would achieve the excellent urban design outcomes required, while also meeting desired density targets.
As part of the neighbourhood analysis, we prepared a number of quick studies that identified strategic ‘gap teeth’ sites that if acquired would unlock more flexible or efficient design outcomes, or better connectivity between streets.

Mixed Tenure
Currently, social housing amounts to 57% of residential properties in this area. The masterplan provides a more structured mix of social, affordable and market housing, arranged to promote better use of land, improved social resilience, increased diversity and a wider range of choice.

Typologies
Isthmus, in conjunction with Architectus, designed a series of new social housing typologies specifically for this bid. New social housing typologies were designed to meet the needs of the current community, while also anticipating the future requirements of an increasingly diverse resident profile and an aging population. All houses were designed to achieve ‘blind tenure’ – to be of equivalent visual standard whether social or market housing. The drawings were linked to spreadsheets that are constantly updated through an iterative design process, providing quick feedback loops for the development team to track feasibility.

 

Affordability
To address housing affordability, we explored house designs that offered new ways of living that the market is not currently providing – co-living and shared living models are a viable means to reduce living expenses or combine incomes to purchase a first house.

Gentle Density
Two one-bedroom units are located one above the other, with shared stair access. The house can function as two separate units, or be reconfigured with simple internal alterations to function as a three-bedroom home if needs change in the future. Efficient to construct, and similar in form to the a two-storey home next door, this house typology is one way of providing ‘gentle density’ among existing neighbourhoods where large apartment blocks would not be suitable.

Team Members
Andre de Graaf, Scott Donnell, Ashley West,
Past Team Members

Emma Davis

Collaborators
Boffa Miskell
Architectus
Fletcher Residential Living
Cabal

Client
Tāmaki Redevelopment Company