Hobsonville Point’s environmentally sustainable home design unveiled

The Auckland property market is in a fluster with supply not meeting demand, bigger often considered better, and downsizing not appealing to most. But the first lot of environmentally-sustainable, eye-catching homes going on sale this week from the Sunderland precinct in Hobsonville Point are evidence that small doesn’t have to mean poky and ugly.

Lack of actual, large-scale development to solve the problems of Auckland booming population and the sky rocketing demand for houses, has been front page news for some time. One positive on an otherwise lacklustre building scene has been development at Hobsonville Point, where more than 3000 homes are due to go up in the next five to six years.

This weekend, the first 25 houses in the Sunderland precinct will hit the market. Sunderland managing director Wayne Silver says 550 people have already registered interest.

The project sees property development company Willis Bond & Co join forces with Studio Pacific Architecture.

Sunderland will contain 211 homes in a variety of freestanding, terraced and refurbished heritage homes from the Air Force.

15% of these homes will be affordable Axis homes, costing no more than $485,000.

Those dreaming of a sprawling house and garden might be shocked by how tightly packed together the Sunderland homes are, but Hobsonville Land Company chief executive Chris Aiken says any fears about density are unnecessary, as the Hobsonville Point development shows it can be done well.

“The terraces and apartments at Sunderland demonstrate to the market that it’s achievable.”

Studio Pacific Architecture director Stephen McDougall says they saw no need to compromise the aesthetics of the house in order to cater to the Auckland property market.

“Bill English said it’s time for some ugly with new housing. I don’t agree with that. The conversation should be around well designed, quality homes.”

Silver says the Sunderland homes value quality of space over the size of space and are “design driven” to maximize the area available.

“Auckland can’t continue to expand. We all love backyards but it’s not practical for a city of two million. Hobsonville Point is addressing that issue,” he says.

The subdivision is the first in Auckland with every house built to Homestar 6 rating, which means it must be well-insulated and all materials used must have no or low toxic emissions.

Silver says several factors were incorporated into the design to ensure energy and water efficiency.

These include energy efficient lights, thermally broken joinery, double-glazing, tanks that catch rainwater, solar-heated concrete flooring and the houses built to be positioned facing the sun.

The homes also boast a Lifemark 3 rating, which ensures it is easily accessible for people with disabilities. Anyone in wheelchairs can access the flat first level of home, where there is a bedroom and a bathroom. 

The layout of the homes is also intended to be socially sustainable, McDougall says, with the closeness harking back to what he calls an “old-fashioned New Zealand community”.

The homes are connected through shared spaces such as walkways and neighbourhood parks that are a few steps away and the front yards and driveways are open with no fences.

His project team of eight has been working on the design for the homes for just over a year.

The houses themselves incorporate different elements of the New Zealand native landscape into the construction, such as New Zealand pine used for the house structure and the option of 100% New Zealand wool carpet.

McDougall says close attention was paid to the small details, such as the ready-to-go vegetable patch in the backyard.

Willis Bond & Co’s previous projects include the first stage of the Wynyard Quarter on Auckland City’s waterfront with a project end value of over $200 million, while Studio Pacific Architecture has previously worked on the award-winning Beaumount Quarter stage one housing opposite Victoria Park.

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