Cadness Apartments.

Safe As Houses

The Cadness Apartments are a new architectural development within the Northcote Master Plan. The project, which was completed in January 2020 a month ahead of schedule, creates 16 new high quality, warm and dry homes for a vulnerable section of the population.

The apartment design maximises solar gain in living areas and creates open and flexible living spaces for residents. The homes are sunny, well insulated and ventilated, and provide a great balance between privacy and outdoor living spaces.

Kāinga Ora’s mandate to deliver low maintenance, robust and value-for-money home has been satisfied through simple and elegant design, careful material selection and the use of off-site manufactured building technology as well as cross-laminated timber.

Our architects, landscape architects and urban designers worked together with the client, local schools, mana whenua and key community groups to design and deliver this multi-faceted visionary project.

Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One Shared Path.

Te Ara Tupua is the highly anticipated harbour-side walking and cycling link between Wellington and Lower Hutt. The name Te Ara Tupua, gifted by the Taranaki Whānui, reflects the creation story of Te Whanganui a Tara—the story of Ngāke and Whātaitai, the tupua that created the harbour and its landforms.

The 4.5km long Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One section of the shared path will be built on the harbour’s edge from Ngā Ūranga Interchange to Honiana Te Puni Reserve in Pito-One, connecting to the Pito-One to Melling section that’s currently under construction.

The shared path features a new bridge over the railway and six ūranga (landings) at key sites along its length which provide areas for coastal planting, habitat creation, and gathering, recreation and viewing areas.

Director of Regional Relationships at Waka Kotahi, Emma Speight says. “Te Ara Tupua will be a stunning addition to the Wellington Harbour coastline and create a step change in the number of people choosing to walk or bike between Wellington and the Hutt. It will make State Highway 2 and the Hutt rail line more resilient and provide the ability to adapt to sea level rise.”

By providing a safe, attractive 5m wide path, separated from motorised traffic, the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One shared path will make it possible for more people to try new and active ways of getting between Lower Hutt and Wellington.

As well as providing a safe way to walk and cycle, the design for this crucial infrastructure corridor features new seawalls and rock embankments (revetments) to help protect the transport corridor from the damaging effects of storms, as well as providing habitat for fauna and flora.

The design protects and enhances sensitive land and sea ecologies, adding new offshore habitat for seabirds to offering undisturbed roosting places.

Designed in partnership with Taranaki Whānui, this will be the first Waka Kotahi project considered under the new fast-track consent process, with applications to be lodged this month. Construction is expected to begin in mid-2021 and take approximately three years to complete.

Downtown Ferry Terminal Takes Shape

We are excited to see Auckland’s new downtown ferry berths are rapidly taking shape, as explained in a brand new video produced by Auckland Transport (below).

Funded by AT and designed by Isthmus Group this is one of the most significant projects in the Downtown Programme and will transform the way ferry services operate on the Waitematā Harbour. The public space combined with new and upgraded ferry infrastructure represents a comprehensive revitalisation of the city centre’s land and water interface.

Eric van Essen, Programme Director of the Downtown Programme says “this development will help set Auckland up well for the future. Currently we have six million people a year traveling through the existing terminal at Queen’s Wharf, and that number is expected to increase by up to 50% in the next decade.”

The new ferry infrastructure, which will be ready to use in 2021, has been designed to enable the thousands of Aucklanders who will commute to the city centre to do so safely and efficiently. It will include six new berths stretching along Queens Wharf, with magnificent canopies covering the gangways.

Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of Planning Committee comments on the magnitude of this project and the benefits it will bring to Aucklanders. “The scale of this new ferry terminal is impressive; this will be the biggest upgrade to Auckland’s ferry infrastructure in more than 100 years.

For more information on the Ferry Terminal project and other city centre projects visit Progress AKL.

Middlemore Hospital Tiaho Mai Acute Mental Health Unit.

In recognition of mental Health Awareness Week we are proud to share Tiaho Mai—Middlemore Hospital’s Acute Mental Health Unit. Tiaho Mai is the first building of scale for acute mental healthcare in New Zealand, designed by Klein Architects and featuring courtyards designed by Isthmus.

Tiaho Mai means ‘shining light’, and the rebuild, marks a step-change in designing for mental health in New Zealand—from its co-design approach to salutogenic design principles to its cultural capability.

The three new courtyards deliver light and air right into the heart of a large building, creating a peaceful sanctuary. What was critical, says service manager Wanda Condell, was “a sense of space. With acute mental health episodes, physical boundaries become blurred and confused. It is noticeably calm in the new unit and that has a lot to do with the space and openness.”

The courtyards have been carefully designed to respond to dependency (care) levels of the users, and to give them the agency to choose between different environments in which to spend time. This higher-quality environment enables people to heal sooner and be better prepared.

Serving the communities of Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) in South Auckland, stage one of the new Tiaho Mai opened in 2018, with stage two officially opened in September 2020.


Ūrunga Plaza, Wynyard Quarter.

Ūrunga Plaza, the newest public space in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, has been officially opened with a karakia whakawātea by Taiaha and Clay Hawke from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Wrapping around the south and east sides of the Park Hyatt Auckland the L-shaped plaza completes the promenade from the Viaduct Harbour to Karanga Plaza, stitching together the waterfront and viaduct harbour promenade for the very first time.

Drawing on the reflecting waters of the harbour, the dappled shade of coastal edge vegetation, and inspired by the timber milling history of the site, the plaza features a series of recycled and sustainably sourced timber stacks arranged in a wave-like formation. These playful stacks provide an opportunity for seating and are framed by native planted raingardens, including one carefully transplanted 6m tall pōhutukawa.

Designed by Isthmus for Panuku Development Auckland, Ūrunga Plaza creates space for people to stroll, and a dynamic and engaging place for visitors to meet and enjoy views to the harbour and city. The project represents a cornerstone public space project in the ongoing regeneration of Wynyard Quarter.


Maungawhau Boardwalk Opens.

New boardwalk the next step in preservation of Maungawhau

We are pleased to announce the opening of the new visitor boardwalk around the crater rim and lower tihi (summit) of Maungawhau / Mt Eden.

Commissioned by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, the boardwalk was designed by Isthmus, together with Stellar Projects Engineers, the Tūpuna Maunga Authority team, HEB Construction and managed by Chester Consultants. Its completion provides long-overdue protection for Maungawhau, the volcanic cone which is a taonga in every sense of the word.

The previous tihi track was last upgraded over ten years ago with aggregate that had since washed away, leaving uneven surfaces and ruts which were highly prone to erosion.

The new boardwalk follows the contours of the Maunga tihi, carefully winding through the tūāpapa (terraces) where the houses and gardens of the pā once sat, and the rua (pits) which were roofed for storing crops. Culminating in a 4.8m wide viewing deck at the lower northern tihi, visitors can take in sweeping panoramic views over the CBD, Waitematā Harbour, and the network of Maunga across Tāmaki Makaurau.

“With around 1.2 million people visiting Maungawhau every year, a better solution was needed to both protect the pā features and enhance the experience that visitors expect from one of the country’s most iconic Maunga,” says Paul Majurey, Chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has been a fantastic client with a clear vision and strong compass for their Maunga. The brief called for a design that did not detract from the experience of the Maunga, its complex of earthwork structures, expressive volcanic form, and to enhance the experience as a journey.

“The Maunga was to remain the main feature on the Hikoi to the tihi. It was an opportunity to be minimal with materiality and reduce the footprint of its structure as much as possible. Sections of boardwalk are kept narrow, changes in direction and angle respond to subtle earthworks on the ground, platform landings reflect adjacent terraces, the handrail is light and disappears from different perspectives – all of this was very intentional.” says Isthmus Landscape Architect Nada Stanish, adding that it was “a complex site and although the design was simple in principle it was a challenge to realise on site, the whole team rose to the challenge and where there is great collaborative effort there is a great outcome, everyone wins. Through design and build, every decision was made with full consideration of the significance of the site.”

The design uses materials that will naturally weather over time and are permeable to the elements, allowing grass growth and ground stability beneath. Allowing the flow of air, water and light through the boardwalk also helps restore the wairua and mauri of Maungawhau.

Minimal disturbance to the landscape was top priority in the boardwalk’s construction. Foundation footings are screwed into the ground using a hand tool meaning no digging was required, and it’s a reversible technique — the foundations can be removed in the future leaving no trace that the structure was ever there. Contractors carried materials by hand to locations onsite to ensure the lowest impact on the archaeology of the site. All materials can be fully recycled at the end of their life.

Isthmus is also proud to have contributed to the extensive planning for the project, which included a review of historic locations and World Heritage sites around the world. Today “Maungawhau and the other Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains) of Tāmaki Makaurau are on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status,” says Majurey

To find our more visit the Our Auckland website or go and experience it for yourself and be sure to check out the Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau / Maungawhau Visitor Experience Centre, next to the Whau Café below the tihi (summit). To read more about the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, visit