The project brief was for a coastal apartment complex that would attract interest and make a statement. The expectation was that the building would also be a catalyst for transformation, in an industrial area of Whangārei where there is planned urban regeneration.
Located on a 1,549sqm site on the waters edge, the site presented a number of challenges and opportunities. The design needed to be durable in a seaside environment, aesthetically it needed to be suited to the industrial marine context, it needed to be orientated for northern sunlight whilst capturing southern water views, and it needed to address urban design considerations of defining each street frontage with activated, modulated built form. It the same time, the site offered unobstructed views of the Mangapai River and the opportunity to offer a convenient, efficient, and low maintenance housing type to the market, which is not common in Whangarei.
The outcome is two 3-storey walk-up apartment buildings in a contemporary style by way of simple and robust design. The development includes 18 apartments that are engaged in their context with expansive glazing for outlook to the water, and to Port Road. Façades are balanced, purposefully repetitive and uniform - comprising of textured concrete panels broken up by corten steel balconies and walkways. The development is envisioned to inject new life into the currently industrial local context by way of the introduction of residential activity on this site, and bold architecture. The aspiration is that the Nikau Apartments will be formative in the regeneration of Port Nikau.