Timber ‘green’ design wins Auckland apartment design competition

S3 Architect's winning design

Auckland firm S3 Architects’ proposal for an innovative timber building has won the competition to design an apartment building on a difficult urban site in Mt Eden.

Organised by the NZ Institute of Architects and developer Ockham Residential, and with the support of Auckland Council, the competition was staged to produce a buildable design for 11 Akepiro St, a site adjacent to the Western Line rail tracks and the city end of Dominion Rd.

A further goal of the competition is to promote architectural and community thinking about medium density development, a housing option that is increasingly relevant in rapidly growing Auckland.

The result of the competition was announced today by mayor Len Brown at Auckland Art Gallery, where the 65 competition entries have been on display since Sunday.

“Aucklanders have made their views absolutely clear to us – having greater choice in housing is crucial to them,” Mr Brown says.

“Auckland is also united in something else – our development has to be of high quality. That is fundamental to Auckland’s future and that is one of the strongest messages we have heard.

“And that is why I as mayor and Auckland Council are so strong in our support of this competition.”

Jury chairman Richard Goldie, a director of Peddle Thorp Architects, said the competition was a bold and timely initiative by Ockham Residential and the Institute of Architects that had produced an exceptional response from architectural practices.

“The competition called for innovative schemes that would make the most of a challenging site and demonstrate that good quality medium density housing can be achieved in appropriate places in our city.

“A site near two train stations and one of Auckland’s busiest bus routes would seem to be an ideal candidate for a medium density housing option.

“There was a wide range of compelling entries but the successful proposal convincingly met several criteria,” Mr Goldie says.

“It uses green materials and energy-saving construction technology, provides very livable apartments, engages well with a small neighbouring reserve, contributes positively to a mixed-use street and offers the city an inspiring work of architecture.

“S3 Architects’ entry is a clear competition winner.”

S3 Architects director Stephen Smith says his practice’s design for the proposed six-storey apartment building, which incorporates 25 residential units and ground floor commercial tenancies, uses a cross-laminated timber structural system.

“This construction method allows for precise off-site prefabrication and efficient on-site assembly, which brings time and cost savings,” Smith says. “New Zealand can be a world leader with this timber technology.

“I also wanted to demonstrate that, with a bit more effort in design and construction, we can significantly reduce the energy use in our buildings.”

Smith says he was pleased by his fellow architects’ enthusiastic response to the Akepiro St design competition, and by the standard of entries.

“It’s good to see that architects have the willingness and capability to contribute to this type of initiative. And I applaud the developer and the council for their enterprise in promoting efforts to provide solutions to Auckland’s housing challenges.”

Ockham Residential director Mark Todd says the number and quality of the entries had exceeded his expectations for the Akepiro St design competition.

“Everyone knows the pressures on the housing market at the moment but we think there needs to be a wider conversation about the quality of new homes and buildings that go up in the city,” Todd says.

“For this reason, I’m really pleased the Institute of Architects and the Council came on board with this competition.”

S3 Architects will work with Ockham Residential to develop the competition-winning design into a completed building. The four other finalists in the competition each received an award of $5000 from Ockham Residential at the announcement event at Auckland Art Gallery.

Besides S3 Architects, the finalists were Leuschke Group Architects, Matthews & Matthews Architects, Waterfall Gunns Lowe Architects, and Andrew Sexton Architecture.

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