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    Australian architects head to New Zealand and try hand in emerging apartment market

    Nathan Johnson

    New Zealand is beginning to see more high-density housing and Australian architects are in good stead to design them - these are some of the stories circulating the Tasman Sea of late.

    One example is Australia’s dKO architecture, multi-density specialists who have recently designed large-scale housing developments in NSW‘s Blue Mountains and Ermington, and were responsible for ‘The Precinct’ development in Melbourne.

    dKO have offices in Sydney and Melbourne and have now announced they will be opening a branch in Auckland, New Zealand to capitalise on the country’s recent evolution towards higher density living.

    “New Zealand is fast adapting to apartment style living and a lot of the work we’ll be doing is bringing Australia’s apartment design to Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington,” said dKo Director David Randerson.

    “The market has certainly changed there in the past 12 months and we are seeing more denser sorts of housing and more liveable housing popping up.”

    “In Auckland especially they traditionally put larger houses on larger blocks of land but now we are seeing this transition to inner city living.”

    And the statistics suggest Randerson is correct. In July, New Zealand Statistics showed that 2,984 new apartment consents had been granted nationwide, up from 1,792 from the previous year and from 1,808 in 2009 - the next highest on their records.

    Some New Zealand commentators have called this move to apartment living a knock-on effect from New Zealand’s massive overvalued housing prices, which are ranked the third worst in the world.

    According to Randerson, Australians are in good stead to lead the evolution towards apartment style living on the other side of the Tasman because our apartment design standard is so high.

    “Australian architects are more adapt to this denser form of housing and apartment style living because we have been doing it for longer,” he said.

    “We are bringing our environmental principles of cross flow ventilation and solar access, as well as our high-standard apartment planning, to New Zealand.”

    He also says our regulations, particularly NSW’s SEPP65, have facilitated this expertise:

    “In Sydney our planing controls are very advanced in terms environmental principles and architectural guides,” he said.

    “The planning system hasn’t quite caught up with the denser forms of housing, and for this reason New Zealand developers are turning to Australian expertise in high quality compact apartments.”

    Current dKO Architecture projects include apartment and terraces in Stonefields in Mount Wellington, housing at Hobsonville Point and a masterplan at the 3 Kings, Auckland, which will have more than 1,000 dwellings

    In Christchurch dKO Architecture is currently designing a $20 million dollar church and creative arts centre at Cranmer Square.

    Other Australian firms such as BVN and Taylor Cullity Lethlean have also had recent success in the country. BVN took the Supreme Award at the 2014 Property Council New Zealand/ Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards for their ASB North Wharf project, but their website does not list a New Zealand office.

    If you know of any firms trying their hand in New Zealand, we’d love to hear from you - you can comment below. 

    Image: Auckland Council.

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