No Driving This Daisy

Having recently profiled medium-density housing developments in Australia, we decided it was time to showcase a local developer making their mark on Auckland’s apartment scene.

Ockham Residential is behind some of Auckland’s most popular apartment developments. Their journey into medium-density housing  began with the Ockham Building on Sandringham Road, and their impressive portfolio has expanded rapidly and now includes The Isaac in Grey Lynn, The Turing Building on Great North Road, and Hypatia in Newmarket, to name a few.

They aren’t showing any signs of slowing down either, with new developments underway in Hobsonville Point and Avondale, as well as New Zealand’s first nine Homestar apartment building, The Daisy in Mt Eden.

The Daisy introduces a new model of  development for apartments in Auckland, that breaks our car-centric mentality. Not only is it a more environmentally sustainable development, The Daisy boldly boasts extensive bike parking, and no private car parking.

We spoke with Ockham Residential’s chief executive, Helen O’Sullivan, about the challenges involved with building medium-density, the feasibility of living car-free in Auckland, and what the future holds for Ockham.

The Ockham Building on Sandringham Road, Ockham Residential's first foray into medium-density apartments.

The Ockham Building on Sandringham Road, Ockham’s first foray into medium-density apartments.

 

Demand for your previous developments has been incredibly high. Why do you think this is?

The Auckland housing market is changing rapidly.  The concept of medium-density apartment style living in city fringe and suburban locations is gaining ground as people see the benefits of the approach. It enables developers to provide homes that locals can afford, in places where the occupants are connected to some of the amazing services and features of Tāmaki Makaurau.

We believe that our buildings need to be attractive, optimise resident comfort and minimise long-term costs.  A savvy community is connecting with these features and we are delighted by the trust placed in us by so many buyers.

The Hypatia, located adjacent the Grafton Railway Station, is Ockham's most recently completed medium-density development.

The Hypatia, located adjacent the Grafton Railway Station, is Ockham’s most recently completed medium-density development.

 

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in designing, selling and developing The Daisy?

The site does present some practical challenges being at the end of a cul-de-sac, right next to a park and adjoining the Western Commuter Rail Line, which has made for some tricky moments working on the site.  Design-wise, as a small site, the architects had to work especially hard to make the floor plans work. It’s worth the effort though – the location means that The Daisy has guaranteed access to light on three sides, and has excellent public transport links.  Its nine Homestar rating – the highest for an apartment building in New Zealand to date – has also been a selling point for the market we’re targeting with this development.

The Daisy Main Pic

The Daisy will be New Zealand’s first apartment development with a nine Homestar rating.

 

Homestar is an independent rating tool that certifies the health, efficiency and sustainability of New Zealand homes. Developments are judged across six categories: Health & Comfort, Energy, Water, Waste, Site, and Management. A high-rating development will have a heavily insulated thermal envelope for optimal energy efficiency, allowing homes to be warm in winter and cool in summer (and cheaper to heat). Due to their scale, it is often more difficult, and expensive, for apartment developments to achieve a high Homestar rating, so it’s no small feat that The Daisy will be the country’s first apartment development to achieve nine stars when complete.

What has been the reaction of prospective buyers to an (almost) car-free development?

It has been amazingly positive!  We were a little nervous when we first launched it – our founder, Mark Todd, used to laugh and suggest asking him again in two years’ time whether the Auckland market was ready for this level of innovation.  For anyone who has lived in London, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, or any other big city, the concept of living near the city centre without a car is commonplace.  Aucklanders are getting to grips with the idea faster than we expected, and the advent of services like Uber has only accelerated that.

People in global cities such as Melbourne and Sydney (above) have embraced living without a car.

People in global cities such as Melbourne and Sydney (above) have embraced living without a car.

 

It can be difficult to live in Auckland without having access to a car – how have you solved this issue for occupants in The Daisy?

The Daisy has two cars which will be managed under the Cityhop car sharing system – so if you want to book a car to nip out for dinner with friends on a Tuesday evening, or do a big shop on Saturday, you can.  It’s also incredibly well positioned for transport links – it’s less than 1km from the Mt Eden Railway Station, which will be on the City Rail Loop, and 800m from Dominion Road (the busiest bus route in Auckland).  On bad weather days, you can get to the city and back in a taxi for less than it would cost to park there for a whole day! This concept is all about location though – Auckland’s public transport network needs more development before this could be workable everywhere.

The Daisy has two Cityhop cars, which residents can book for journeys where they need a car.

Rather than including private car parking, The Daisy has two Cityhop cars which residents are able to book for journeys which require a car.

 

Ockham has been a pioneer for liveable apartments in Auckland. Have you noticed a change in the general public’s perception of apartment living?

The market has developed very quickly in that respect, to the extent that we are seeing enthusiastic uptake of our medium-density model beyond the city fringe.  We have extended our focus from the city fringe (Grey Lynn / Mt Eden / Newmarket) to Avondale and Hobsonville Point, and we are finding that the market has been very receptive to the change.  The time for affordable, smaller-scale homes is here, and at Ockham we are pleased to be a part of responding to that need.

Situated in Hobsonville Point, the Bernoulli Gardens development is a direct response to the public's increased demand for medium-density living.

Situated in Hobsonville Point, the Bernoulli Gardens development is a direct response to the public’s increased demand for medium-density living.

 

What’s next for Ockham?

Our next project is in Mt Albert and is a partnership with Marutuahu Ropu, through the Crown Land Development Programme.  It’s named Tuatahi, and details will be coming within the next three months as we work through the resource consent process. Meanwhile, we have just finished Hypatia in Khyber Pass, and The Daisy in Mt Eden, Set in Avondale, and Bernoulli Gardens in Hobsonville Point are all underway. We are definitely keeping busy!

The Set development, located adjacent Avondale Racecourse, is one of several Ockham projects currently under construction.

The Set development, located adjacent the Avondale Racecourse, is one of several Ockham projects currently under construction.

 

Looking for more on medium-density design? The Auckland Design Manual has design guides for Apartments and Terraces. We also have case studies on other high-quality medium-density developments from around the world, including Ockham’s very own “The Ockham,” and “The Isaac“.

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