Design Bites

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Record-setting statistics, a suburb in a circle and a new boutique hotel that could become a habit

What’s caught our attention:

Higher density housing in New Zealand featuring terraced housing

Although Kiwis traditionally hanker after a stand-alone home on their own patch of dirt, the pendulum is swinging towards medium-density solutions and, particularly in our biggest city, residents can’t help but notice how many smaller-sized terraces, mews and apartments are going up.

Now Statistics NZ has confirmed what we already knew: building consents for townhouses, flats and units in the year to August 2020 topped 10,000 for the first time since records began.

At Box™, we have just broken ground on a pair of townhouses in Western Springs, and we’re excited about this market. Choosing a medium-density dwelling with a compact outdoor space is not a compromise – it’s a freedom of sorts. No more hours of mowing lawns and your mortgage is likely to be a little smaller too. As long as these dwellings are positioned and designed thoughtfully in relation to each other, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Plus, they’re often occupied by like-minded people so they’re able to become mini communities within their communities.

If apartments aren’t your bag, maybe the townhouse is? Certainly something to think about.

What’s inspired us:

Contemporary urban design in Denmark suburb

It may not be the most efficient use of land, but we think the Danish suburb of Brondby Havenby innovative thinking – and we like that. Located on the outskirts of Copenhagen, the suburb is planned in a series of circular sections (like several giant pizzas) and is best appreciated when seen from above.
Every property is a ‘holiday home’ in that it is not allowed to be occupied for more than six months of the year that occupies the same-sized wedge. The dwellings are small – not more than 50 square metres – and are sited towards the perimeter of the circle. There’s a slice of garden big enough for play and growing crops that tapers off towards the centre where there’s a shared parking court in the middle.
Seems to us this would be a great way to meet the neighbours, to swap notes on what’s growing well and what the children are up to in their vacation over the shared hedge. The distinctive geometry of this suburb where allotments are the driving force of the design was the brainchild of landscape architect Erik Mygind way back in 1964 so the idea is decades old but to all accounts the community is still going strong.

What we found helpful:

Auckland architecture of The Convent hotel in Grey Lynn

With summer holidays around the corner and families catching up for Christmas, we sometimes find our homes simply not big enough to host the entire clan. At Box™, we do try to build for flexibility – with a pull-down bed that can turn the rumpus into a guest room, or extra-wide bench seats that can double as beds, or bunks to up the sleepy-head count. But if worst comes to worst, it’s good to find a place you know your friends will love. The Convent in the city fringe suburb of Grey Lynn only recently opened its doors but we admire what the owners have done with this incredible Spanish Mission building. They’ve kept all its fabulous architectural features – those arches, colonnades and the stucco exterior – but modernised the inside with iconography and art that harks of the building’s history as a Catholic school that housed a community of nuns. Best of all, it’s not priced beyond the realms of reality and there’s a restaurant (run by the same chef as Cotto) so you can join them for dinner at ‘their’ place.

Interior design of character lounge in Auckland New Zealand

Bedroom interior design

Character lounge and kitchen in Grey Lynn Auckland

Open plan character lounge and bedroom