News & Updates
Citation from the NZIA Awards Jury; “Controlling costs – at whatever price point – while observing the requirements of the masterplan and other planning rules is not easy anywhere in Auckland, and probably nowhere has it been more difficult than in Hobsonville Point. This project by Construkt features three- and four-bedroom terrace units, with double garages, double-height glazing, courtyards opening directly from generous ground-floor living areas, and balconies off the master bedroom upstairs. The forms were required to be kept simple, with no membrane , parapet, internal guttering or other complications to the roofline, the result is a clean and deceptively simple row of bright brick, wood and steel homes. An elegant addition to the street that’s comfortable and extremely pleasant to live in.”
We are happy to announce that David Gibbs’ services to planning have been recognised by the New Zealand Planning Institute. David was presented the Alfred O. Glasse Award at the NZPI Annual Conference held in Napier this past weekend. The award recognises “outstanding services to planning by non-planners”. As founding Director of Construkt Associates, David has been heavily involved in the masterplanning of award-winning residential communities at Hobsonville Point and Long Bay. Outside of his practice, David has over a very long period of time contributed his expertise on a pro bono basis to a number of resource management and environmental campaigns.
Construkt are proud to announce that staff members Louise Li and Kirsten Zink have completed the process to become Registered Architects.
The path to registration demands dedicated study and hard work – requiring both a written case study to show their comprehensive experience and knowledge of the profession, and a three-hour interview with the registration committee. We congratulate Louise and Kirsten on such a significant achievement.
They say that their study groups and discussions with architects were an extremely useful part of the learning experience. After months full of evenings and weekends devoted to study and preparation, they feel the process has prepared them for this next stage of their careers. They are both very pleased to end the year on a high note.
A dedicated team at Construkt have developed a masterplan for the wider residential area and a range of housing typologies to suit the client’s brief and the site. Directors David and Russell recently took part in a public meeting to help inform locals about the project. The design for the first stage, covering over 70 dwellings, is on track to be lodged for Resource Consent before Christmas.
Peter Cooney, spokesperson for Classic Developments, said the development is pitched at families, first home buyers and retirees who are wanting affordable but good quality homes and living environments.
Key design considerations are to create a legible street network, provide visual and physical connections to the public reserve that will run along the stream corridor, and design houses with a strong street presence.
A lot of creative thinking goes in to forming an architectural language suited to a project. For Drury a combination of asymmetrical gable roof forms, large openings, and a contrasting material palette are used in various ways across the housing typologies to create visually interesting streetscape. Buildability has also been considered at this early stage, the designs follow standard construction methods to help meet the affordability targets.
We enjoy working with the highly skilled project team who are all driven to see results.
The Peacocke Growth Area has been strategically selected (alongside Rotokauri, Rototuna, and Ruakura) to accommodate Hamilton’s urban expansion.
Construkt have been busy developing a masterplan, designing housing typologies, and planning concepts for the neighbourhood centre as part of Stage 1 of the Peacocke area, for Northview Capital Ltd. The client’s design-focused brief has encouraged the team toward a comprehensive response.
The development of the Peacocke Growth Area will be characterised by its relationship with the large green reserves that spread through the interior of the site, expanding the existing natural environment, and enhancing the banks of the Waikato River.
The proposed residential neighbourhoods are linked by the reserve network and the interconnected transport corridors. Areas designated as community focal points are located at key intersections across the site.
An urban design review last week with Hamilton City Council’s Urban Design Advisory Panel was held on-site at the client’s suggestion. The on-site meeting was insightful, it allowed for the design proposal to be discussed and understood as a response to the specific conditions across the site.
Word of mouth is that the council found the site walkover “ground breaking” and that “the overall presentation raised the bar for UDP presentations.” We find that strong communication and collaboration with consultants and local authorities, such as through team and stakeholder meetings, helps to produce successful outcomes.
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The delivery of affordable housing is a long and complex process that requires the support, and sometimes the active participation, of many different stakeholders, including the private development and construction sector, local and central government agencies, community stakeholders and finance sector.
In the final of three articles on affordability, we consider some of these higher-level contributors under the headings:
- Project Procurement Strategies
- Regulatory Environment
- Delivery Path and
- Ownership Path
Project Procurement Strategies
In structuring a ‘Development Team’, strong, ongoing relationships between developer/builder, architect and full consultant team can contribute to a time efficient economic design process. Varying a consultant team during a development can result in loss of project knowledge and expensive time delays.
In a similar way, the use of singular main contractor across multiple sites and repeat typologies results in build up of ‘project knowledge’, meaning that feasibility calculations can be extended over multiple sites. Repeat units constructed by different contractors can produce different results when consistency is the desired outcome. Strong project and site management can also increase economy during the construction phase.
Clear contractual relationships with the contractor are essential to ensure the required standard of construction, and it is on the basis of this contractual relationship that defective work can be remedied. The reduced size of affordable homes and reduced number of details requires these details to be constructed correctly and consistently.
As discussed in previous articles, prefabrication and offsite construction can lead to efficiencies and protection from weather related time delays. However it is noted that due to the scale of the New Zealand market, and the desire for individuality in housing, to date prefabrication has not been the ‘silver bullet’ for construction costs in this country. The New Zealand construction industry is currently set up to be efficient using on site construction with prefabrication making an impact in relation to components of house, rather than complete homes. We are currently seeing these components becoming increasingly sophisticated, with elements such as fully lined or clad internal and external walls delivered to site.
Project specific consenting structures can be beneficial in minimising consenting times. This can involve a singular Building Consent for a standard typology, where foundations and services become the only site-specific aspect. For larger developments, access to a project specific Council Team at Resource and Building Consent stage can speed up processing and streamline engagement with Council.
An approach we are yet to see trialed in New Zealand is to provide height bonuses for developers amalgamating existing lots. Larger development parcels can lead to densities well beyond those achievable on single residential lots, with policies such as these supporting the need to promote density within existing suburban communities.
Development specific covenants on titles can protect the visual amenity of a development from unsympathetic additions and changes to affordable units by placing requirements for design approval for stipulated work to the exterior of houses or front yards.
Working with Council to achieve innovative approaches to storm water management such as planted recessed swales/cesspits can have the advantage of adding high impact significant landscape features and visual amenity to a development.
It is difficult to sustain affordable housing delivery without consistent strong political and bureaucratic leaders. Given the rapid turnover of governments and politicians this will be an enduring problem for affordable housing strategies. Effective strategies are ones that deliver actions that are difficult to ‘unravel’ or require a long-term agreement with a third party that is difficult to unwind.
While central and local government may take a lead, actual delivery will require the cooperation of key private and non – government partners.
Recently we are seeing the growth of this model, where local and central government agencies are partnering with the private sector to deliver housing, often within mixed tenure public/private developments. Under this model, private or affordable housing is provided in addition to existing social housing through intensification. This in effect is a ‘land release’ program and based on some initial successes, we would expect to see local and central government developing this further as a policy tool.
Transfer programs can see social housing titles and management responsibilities passed to the community housing sector in order to help the sector grow by strengthening its asset base and cash flow. This can also be a vital catalyst in the development of the size, diversity and professional capacities of participating community housing providers, where an expectation would be that growth would move into the area of development of affordable housing.
It is recognised that strategies need to be implemented across the whole of the housing continuum, covering both the rental and ownership market, and that organisations responsible for strategy development and implementation must be flexible, responsive and have environments within which innovation can occur.
Strategies can be effective over the longer term if initial successes are widely reported and celebrated, helping establish ongoing support.
Financing purchasers into homes can be a key component when considering affordability. Low deposit home loans can reduce the deposit and mortgage burdens of low-to- moderate income earners, shared equity and ownership schemes can also reduce the deposit and mortgage burdens of eligible households. Shared equity schemes enable the purchaser to enter into an agreement and share the cost of purchasing that property ownership with, a government or private agency. In this model the agency is directly influencing the affordability of the housing through part ownership.
Housing typologies with built in ‘value add’ capacity can lower the bar to initial home ownership, with the potential to increase the value of their home through development over time.
Over our three articles we have looked at aspects of site selection, house design, and ‘higher level’ influences, considering how they can impact housing affordability. There are other areas that could also be discussed such as around the markets of skills, labour, and material supply, which only goes to reinforce that there are many rungs to the ladder of understanding and dealing with housing affordability in New Zealand.
Demand within the New Zealand building sector is currently constraining the delivery pipeline. The government and independent bodies, such as Infrastructure NZ, have noted that increased prefabrication in the construction industry is a key part of the solution for building at the scale required to meet current housing demands.
Prefabrication means manufacturing and assembling whole buildings or substantial parts of buildings in controlled conditions prior to installation at their final location. Prefabrication spans from small components, two-dimensional panels, three-dimensional volumes through to complete buildings, including hybrid mixtures of these types with traditional construction methods.
At Construkt we recognise the potential of prefabrication, and the importance of understanding prefabrication in a specific way in respect to our local manufacturing, supply, construction and regulatory environment, and in response Construkt has established an internal team to research available options for prefabrication and modular design in the New Zealand construction industry.
As a practice we have a range of past experience on projects using varying degrees of prefabrication, and believe that the increased specific research that we will be able to generate will lead to benefits for our clients in informing them of suitable products for consideration and designing to incorporate specific products and systems. The team is led by Glenn Kevey and Louise Li.
Recently Construkt have worked with Mike Greer Homes and Concision on a 9 unit social housing project incorporating Concision’s prefabricated wall and floor components. In their highly automated factory, Concision prefabricates panelised wall and floor elements, (complete with cladding, insulation and lining). The panels are then transported and assembled on-site, providing the build team with on-site time savings. Another benefit of the Concision system for this particular project is that it can be customised to accommodate a variety of typologies within the design.
In 2017 Construkt was commissioned by a major international housing company as the design partner to assist with tailoring its prefabricated component construction system for the New Zealand market. The exciting aspect of this company’s approach to building is that almost every part of the house, including external joinery, cabinetry, wall claddings, and its unique structural system are all prefabricated components. As such, dramatic on site construction time savings are achievable. Construkt adapted the company’s existing housing typologies to fit with the New Zealand market, all within their prefabrication parameters. We are currently documenting an initial show home for launching the system in New Zealand.
Beyond these larger scale approaches to prefabrication, we are also meeting with and building up a list of suppliers of prefabricated building components.
We are excited about what we are learning and the impact it will have on our design work going forward.
Construkt are proud to announce that staff member Claire Simpson has completed the process to become a Registered Architect at the end of last year.
The path to registration requires dedicated study and hard work, and requires submission of case studies showing a comprehensive experience and knowledge of the profession, and a three-hour verbal examination before the registration committee. We congratulate Claire on such a significant achievement.
Claire says that while the process could be very demanding at times, it was a valuable learning experience and she is very appreciative of the support from her colleagues at Construkt through this process. She is delighted to have achieved this milestone and is looking forward to this next stage of her career.
Alex Sullivan-Brown, in partnership with his university colleague Sindre Johnsen were awarded 2nd prize in the ‘Skyhive Skyscraper Challenge, an international design competition.
The purpose of the ‘Skyhive’ competition was to ‘generate design ideas for iconic high rise buildings in cities around the globe’.
Alex and Sindre’s scheme was commended for its ‘novel structural ideas’ and the ‘clean and sinuous’ form. Well done Alex!
For full project presentation please follow this link: https://skyhive.beebreeders.com/
Non-negotiable outcomes for all housing are the provision of warm, dry and safe homes that are weathertight and durable. Consideration of sound urban design principles is also essential as we view the housing as not only contributing to the wellbeing of the homeowners and tenants, but the wider communities that they form a part of.
Construkt are also currently working with New Zealand and overseas companies to explore aspects of prefabrication and innovative construction systems. Both are areas where measurable improvements in affordability could be made, generally through the time savings achieved by a streamlined construction process. It can often appear that these prefabrication models work effectively overseas but struggle to make a significant impact in the local scene. Two reasons for this are the small size of the New Zealand market and the preference for individuality within New Zealand homes. What is exciting to observe right now is that even with these limitations, companies are working to find aspects of prefabrication that are able to impact construction cost and processes – watch this space.
Another protocol employed to achieve economy and affordability is that of repetition and modularisation. The use of repetitive modular housing typologies can streamline the documentation and construction process at a large scale. Repetitive building design has the risk of resulting streetscapes to be monotonous and lacking in variation. To avoid this, we can provide alternative roof forms to the same typology, group the houses in different configurations, and perhaps articulate the street facades slightly differently. In effect, we develop a diverse streetscape with our base module, and a ‘kit of parts’, used in alternate ways. A single plan that is designed with dual outdoor living areas, allowing it to work in multiple orientations, also provides the economy of repetition by allowing the same design to be used across various sites. Construkt’s recently completed social and affordable housing in Torrington Crescent, Glen Innes is an example of how effective this strategy can be.
In considering the exterior of a building, expenditure and detail should be targeted to areas that will have the greatest visual impact. In most cases this will mean greater levels of expression to the front street facades and less to back and sides.
Landscape treatments such as fencing and front yard planting, and well-considered external colour schemes are both cost-effective strategies that can make a significant difference to the quality of the wider urban environment.
Another successful approach to affordability that Construkt have employed recently is where a house has been designed with 3 bedrooms and a garage for the Resource Consent obtained by the developer, but only the living module and first 2 bedrooms are built initially. This smaller house is able to be sold as an affordable unit. Over time owners can develop the house to include the already designed and consented additional bedroom and garage. Under this model we would say the added value is already built into the house. This model has been favourably received by the market.
In closing, one of the most valuable contributions we make in discussing affordable housing, is in defining what we mean by affordability. As we view affordability through a wider lens, we recognise that it is not only aspects of building design itself, but also issues around regulatory processes, financing and models of shared equity that contribute to housing affordability. We will look at some of these in more detail in our next article.