To respect the existing grain and rhythm of its Onehunga street this apartment building’s bulk is arranged into two parallel blocks separated by a pedestrian ‘street’, which is the main point of entry and pedestrian circulation. Above street level, the blocks are connected by glazed bridges to provide weather-protected access and a point of interest to passers by.
Connections of various kinds have long shaped Onehunga. On this shoreline, Māori disembarked waka and walked pathways from the beach to Maungakiekie pā, facilitating trade and supply of food. In the 1840s, European colonists established Auckland’s first port here. Over time, the developing settlement became better connected to the central city via tramway.
Ideas around connection are still shaping Onehunga – the re-establishment of the rail connection to Britomart and the zoning changes ushered in by the Auckland Unitary Plan are today influencing the suburb’s re-shaping. This apartment building is an example of how a suburb’s positive transitioning from predominantly low-rise housing, with a smattering of more recent terraced housing and flats, to greater population intensity.
Aligned north to south, with views between Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill and Te Pane-o-Mataoho / Mangere Mountain, the project’s site is equidistant between Cornwall Park and Onehunga’s shops, where cafes and public transport links are less than 10 minutes walk away. Undertaking their first development, the clients were seeking to establish a reputation for high-quality development and an essential part of the brief was about ensuring the building distinguished itself with respect to quality of design and material specification. It is designed for the long-term, not the short.
Planning, too, plays a crucial role in a building’s success. Facing the street, commercial units suitable for retail or hospitality flank the street entry, providing an activated gateway. Further into the site, the pedestrian street gently rises and widens out to become a fully landscaped courtyard, a shared space – the social heart of the development – with large specimen trees to provide dappled shade and vertical climbing plants to create a green backdrop. Either side of the street raised planters ease the transition between public and private spaces and introduce colour, texture and visual appeal.
Beneath the buildings’ podium, a secure basement car park provides for the present and future of transport, with 72 vehicle parks, bicycle parking and charging points for electric cars and bikes. The apartments of one, two and three bedrooms are arranged in four-storey blocks around the podium, configured to maximise sun and light into the centre of the site. The continuous built form of the southern boundary provides shelter from cold southerly winds, while to the north, blocks are more widely spaced to allow sun and light into courtyards and balconies.