Safe as Houses.
Cadness Apartments.


The Cadness Apartments sit within the overall master plan for the regeneration of the Auckland suburb of Northcote. The renewal of social housing led by Kāinga Ora is providing safe, warm and dry housing for the existing community as well as increasing supply so that more people can move into the neighbourhood. 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.

The design focuses on creating high quality, warm and dry homes for a vulnerable section of the population.

In line with the collective vision for a denser, more connected Northcote, the strategic development of the project site involved the replacement of 5 existing Housing New Zealand dwellings on the site, constructed in the 1960s, that had reached the end of their life. In their place are 16 new, single bedroom apartment units in 2- and 3-storey buildings.

Site Layout

1  Ground Floor Plan
2  First Floor Plan
3  Second Floor Plan
4  Location Plan

Site prior to redevelopment—the 1960s dwellings had reached the end of their life cycle.

The quality of the existing state housing stock across Northcote, and this site in particular, was very poor. Badly ventilated and insulated spaces provided little comfort for the residents and often contributed to ill health. As such, the project goal was clear: to provide high quality, warm, safe, dry and healthy homes for Kāinga Ora’s vulnerable tenants—a tenet which is has been fully realised upon the delivery of the project.

Visualisation developed for resource consent.

The Northcote Master Plan identifies the final housing numbers, infrastructure requirements, house types, street pattern and open space requirements for the whole suburb, to be delivered in stages over a number of years. The mix of housing types within Cadness Street is intended to promote a distribution of varying densities throughout the development and by default a visual change in building bulk and form across the site. The addition of apartment units into neighbourhoods vastly improves the yield, increasing both land use efficiency and housing choice.

Designing the relationship between people and the community; feeling safe/secure with veranda and exploring the balance between privacy and street observation.

The 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.  In line with CPTED principles the architecture encourages organic interaction between the residents and helps activate Cadness Street and the Northcote Town Centre, which lies just a stone’s throw from the development.

The apartment blocks are set 6m apart with the block to the east being two stories to allow better light penetration into the shared middle space.

Through careful material selection and a rational, repeated floor plan design, the architecture has satisfied the client’s mandate to deliver low maintenance, robust and value-for-money homes. The design is simple and elegant, with the number of different cladding material junctions kept to a minimum. The apartments will house some of the communities eldery people; the architecture reflects the mana or prestige of its tenants as leaders of the community. The vertical articulation of the materials is designed in recognition of the community as pillars of its strength.

The building layout supports interaction with the street, maximising opening as much as possible to offer good passive surveillance.

In keeping with the design vision, the team took a pragmatic approach to the detailing and documentation of the project, recognising the need for robust, industry standard, low risk and buildable details. The main materials of vertical profile metal and horizontal weatherboard provide reliable, easy to maintain and robust cavity cladding systems. We worked closely with the structural, fire and services engineers and the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) manufacturer early on in the design process. As a result the main structural system of the apartment buildings are fully constructed from CLT; this lightweight structural system achieves the required inter-tenancy fire ratings and is ideal for the geotechnical constraints of the site.

Apartments under construction with pre-fabricated CLT panels being craned in and fixed on site.

Not only does the use of engineered timber provide a sustainable, low carbon construction outcome, but the coordinated and prefabricated nature meant all the panels arrived on site with pre-drilled penetrations. This innovative construction method worked brilliantly for a constrained site and expedited the construction programme, which was completed in January 2020 one month ahead of the original construction programme.

Team Members
Andrew Mirams, Scott McKerrow, Linda Sun, Aaron Miller, Michael Chu, Jia Ying-Hew,
Past Team Members

Rewi Thompson
Emma Davis
Earl Rutherford
Sam Gwynn