There’s a lot of muddy, heavily-scaffolded construction activity at the two Kerepeti neighbourhoods: Kerewhenua and Uku, emerging from the ground at Hobsonville Point, 11km north-west of central Auckland. But even the construction bustle of 208 homes can’t disguise the scale of the larger masterplanned features like landmark buildings and laneways that make this medium-density development work so well.
These features are a fundamental part of our thinking on doing medium-density well to deliver great places to live. The kind of places that attract people and foster communities; the red dots appearing on the maps in the Kerepeti display suite show that it’s working.
First example: landmark buildings. Neighbourhoods need landmarks. They help people orientate themselves and find their way around. And importantly, they develop and define the character of an area. Both Kerepeti neighbourhoods have striking apartment buildings – five storeys in Uku, six in Kerewhenua – that contain a mix of one to three-bedroom homes.
For now, the buildings are wrapped in blue safety-fabric. When these come off they’ll be revealed in all their glory as the landmarks that articulate the Hobsonville Point Road skyline, bookending the new neighbourhoods.
Another example of good medium density masterplanning is the way we’ve used laneways. Narrow roads for residents to reach their home on foot and by car; laneways create neighbourhoods that feel good. These slow streets inspired by 17th century London mews, are as much for pedestrians as they are for cars: a shared surface zone softened with planting and without the blight of bumper-to-bumper parking.
Laneways also usefully separate the built forms around them – making the fairly dense Kerepeti housing airy and open, without eating up valuable space. Using laneways has enabled more dwellings and good quality living. Great things can happen when surburbia gets denser – its all in the design details.
A case in point are the two-storey homes with living areas flipped to the first floor. This means the most-used spaces get lots of light, as well as separation from the street and access to private first-floor terraces. They make the most of the space; terraces sit on top of garages in what would otherwise be wasted voids, allowing density in a way that feels interesting and is community building without being able to see what your neighbours are having for breakfast.
The homes have good size gardens too, and there are versions of the homes in locations where the living area is the ground floor where light and privacy are less of a consideration.
Our masterplan uses landmark buildings, laneways and a mixture of typologies to deliver excellent liveability at higher density.
A cohesive whole that works.