i2C Architects and international practice Ryder Architecture have teamed up to deliver New Zealand’s first major build-to-rent (BTR) project. Located in Auckland, the $221 million development comprises 295 apartments across three buildings.

The project is being developed by Kiwi Property. It is the latest addition to the Sylvia Park precinct in Mount Wellington, which is home to New Zealand’s largest shopping centre. The development will also house the country’s first dog park in a multi-residential setting.

i2C Architects’ Associate Architect, Joe Wright, says the design places a heavy emphasis on community, where amenities and social spaces have been thoughtfully created.

"From the beginning, we have looked to create a vibrant, healthy community, with a deep connection to place and strong promotion of neighbourhood values. The dog park is a leading example of this philosophy – fur residents will have 800sqm of space to explore – while the centralised amenity area offers human residents (both singles and families) unbridled access to coworking facilities, a cafe and a gym,” he says.

“This project is about walkability and promoting sustainable transport initiatives – childcare is close by and the site connects directly to a number of running and cycling paths.

"The site connects directly with the adjoining greenspace and stream to the south and provides residents with an opportunity to enjoy the natural environment, via a connecting footbridge with quiet seating and outlook zones.”

The three buildings wrap around a central communal open plaza and private resident pavilion. The whole project has been designed to effortlessly reflect its surrounding context, influenced by the area’s industrial history, as well as its local pre-colonialism ecology.

The facade features an expressed structural frame and bracing that nods to the industrial language of the design. Employing a profiled metal cladding to the building exterior and fixed metal louvres, this sits in contrast to the apartments softer inner casing, which adopts an organic material palette including timber-lined ceilings and soffits. Mineral patterns of volcanic material and crystalline minerals connect the precinct to Sylvia Park and Mount Wellington.

The development itself is Intended to be a more affordable option for those living in metropolitan New Zealand. i2C Architects and Ryder Architecture have taken cues from more established BTR markets, such as the US and UK. The buildings comprise a number of one, two and three-bedroom spaces in order to provide further options.

“Not only is the cost of renting an apartment from the developer more affordable, but limiting cost structure and regulating the overall project pricing during construction allows the team to put capital back into amenities within the development,” continues Wright.

“Build-to-rent has become much like a hotel – designed to have a central concierge for all to access, with someone to handle deliveries, maintenance issues and so on.

“Many nuances go into designing a BTR project because similarly, maintaining a development for longer periods also attracts varied life cycles. It is about flexibility and adaptability, looking at the psychology of architecture and its use.

“Design considerations take into account, for example, a gym needing to expand or contract pending demand, the same with a coworking facility and cafe. Spaces need to be able to transform at night; creating cinema spaces or a bar setting," said Joe.

Jonathan Seebacher, Architectural Director at Ryder, says his practice has enjoyed teaming up with i2C once again to deliver a much-needed BTR project.

“It’s fantastic to be collaborating with our Alliance partners, i2C, on this project. Having worked at the forefront of the BTR sector in the UK with clients such as MODA, Legal & General and TIPI, it’s hugely exciting to pass our experience to emerging markets around the world,” he says.

“We have been able to work with i2C and Kiwi Properties from the inception of this project and look forward to seeing it start on site later this year.”

Construction is slated to commence late 2021, with renters likely to be enjoying the new build by early 2024. For more information, visit https://i2c.com.au.