Not long ago in New Zealand’s biggest city, apartment living wasn’t considered appealing. Most of the apartments in it were thought suitable only for students. The blocks that sprouted on Auckland’s Hobson and Nelson Streets were almost universally decried.
All anyone wanted, it seemed, was to live in a villa. It feels like all of that has suddenly changed, with leading architects designing seriously desirable apartments (not all of them ridiculously priced). SKHY, a rehab of a 1970s office tower into 37 apartments by Cheshire Architects quickly sold out.
Wynyard Central, a bigger development by Architectus, is almost half sold. Home of the Year 2015 winner Richard Naish’s RTA Studio is designing an apart-ment complex at Alexandra Park. And Fearon Hay is overseeing the masterplan of Union Green terrace homes and apartments by Peddle Thorp.
Some activity is fuelled by property prices. With stand-alone homes becoming so unaffordable, apartments are seen as an increasingly sensible option.
“Apartments were seen as desperation housing,” says architect Pip Cheshire. “Now we’re seeing a confluence of younger generations reaching home ownership level and not having much interest in mowing lawns and weeding gardens, a return of people from overseas and a revving up of the city’s food and beverage options.”
In Christchurch, post-quake central city living is finally getting a boost with the government’s announcement that Fletcher Living will develop nearly 1000 apartments and townhouses over the next eight or nine years.
Good design is at the heart of most of these developments – mini-communities where attention has been paid to con-nectedness.
This doesn’t mean the affordability issue has gone away. But the desire for a more compact, city-based form of living is surely a good start.