Ask An Architect: Apartments Along Great North Road

Ask An Architect: Apartments Along Great North Road / Daniel Marshall Architects

Q: I live in Grey Lynn and while I support the idea of more apartments along Great North Road, I worry that the architects will mess it up again. Can you reassure me?

A: While I agree that attempts at densification in Auckland’s recent history have been less than successful, I am optimistic that we are moving in the right direction. How quickly we get there is the responsibility of everyone in the community, but architects and developers should be leading.

I actually think it would be great if the names of the directors who did the top work boot brands reviews and the ones from development companies and the names of the architects had to be displayed on a bronze plaque on the front of every urban building. Name and shame, or name and celebrate. The choice is theirs!

If we want to achieve a world-class standard of urban living, it will involve a shift form all those involved in the process. We can’t keep designing apartments as suburban houses, complete with internal access, two-car garages, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, all crammed into a shoebox. The perception of what is important has to change and that can create the opportunities for better design. The great things about high density living, such as the ability to create a community and share resources, are often neglected in the desire to maintain the status quo, and the apartment dwellers and the wider community are often left poorer as a result.

On a recent visit to Copenhagen, I had the privilege of visiting some apartment projects by the architectural practice of Bjarke Ingels Group. Using creative arrangement of forms, and embracing the importance of community, they created a completely new archetype of apartment living. This took courage from the developer, the architect, the community and the residents but the result has been spectacular.

So, the short answer to your question is, no it won’t be as bad as the projects that have blighting the city before, But if we all work really hard, and change our ideas of what an apartment should look like, the opportunity to develop Great North Road into a grand avenue that we could all be proud of will not be squandered.

Published in Ponsonby News, December 2014