Stylish approach to medium-density housing
The complex art of gathering bespoke components and pulling them together into a clever, functional, architectural solution; is a forte of JWA Architects Ltd.
Established by director Jonathan Walker in 2004, his Auckland based studio has operated very much under the radar, designing and delivering projects throughout New Zealand and across the Tasman.
Clients know them for their creative thinking and ability to discover a projects potential; creating connected, commercially viable developments.
JWA Architects recently completed two projects within the Auckland area, addressing the challenges of designing mid- to high-end medium density housing in a region short on land availability for housing.
Set within existing stand-alone housing, Mairangi Bay on the North Shore takes the form of two building clusters – one stark white; the other textured black. Each cluster incorporates a range of living conﬁgurations and terrace groupings.
The terrace apartments are three storeys high, providing their own personal entry and arrival space, accessible by individual lifts and stairwells. “The apartments have been designed with ‘later in life’ living in mind,” explains Jonathan.
“You may have couples who have a lot of family, but not necessarily living at home. The terrace house provides for residents to accommodate guests but they also anticipate the residents evolving needs as they age, with the inclusion of personal lift access to each level.”
The architectural style takes its cue from a tradition of timber house construction with a more modernist appearance of mono-pitch roofs from the 50’s and 60’s.
“It also reﬂects the coastal character of Mairangi Bay with large open verandahs, sliding screens, painted and stained timber cladding and features, all associated with beachside living.”
Napier Lane Apartments on the fringe of Takapuna is JWA’s second recent design for medium density housing development, taking in the regions coastal views. “Takapuna is the ideal area for medium-density housing and the associated increase in density population that comes with it.
“There is a thriving town centre that will beneﬁt from an increasing local population supporting businesses and provide excellent co-location for employees and businesses. The Takapuna beach, reserve, town centre and accessible coastline provide unparalleled access to both the beach and well developed urban amenities such as the local theatre, shops and eateries.”
The development is designed in two blocks; featuring steep gable roofs, verandas and a mix of materials. They are designed with small-scale features; blending them into a residential setting.
“The facades are intricately designed and use vibrant colour that’s appropriate to their prominent position at the gateway into Lake Road, and the lively seaside quality of Takapuna,” says Jonathan. “The apartments have a spacious and luxurious feel to them.”
As the availability and affordability of traditional housing close to local amenities and public transport diminishes, mid- to high-end medium density housing has a strong role to play as an alternative. The appeal of medium density housing is likely to come from a wide range of households from retirees to single people to young families.
“It appeals to people who don’t want the additional site area, preferring the beneﬁts of life style that living close to work, amenities, and open areas provide as a trade off to a larger site.
The challenge, Jonathan explains, is providing the same features in the luxury end of medium density housing: large living rooms, covered generous outside living space, so there is no compromise in terms of living space and indoor-outdoor space.
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