Favourite build­ing

For Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, the ‘Star Flats’ in Free­mans Bay, Auck­land, rep­re­sent an en­dur­ing aes­thetic and ap­proach to hous­ing.

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Jacinda Ardern picks a mod­ernist clas­sic

“I like the build­ing aes­thet­i­cally, but I also like what it rep­re­sents. These were built as social hous­ing and for the first time we had apart­ments that were de­signed for whole fam­i­lies to live in. You can see it in the de­sign: they had sep­a­rate laun­dries and pretty de­cent-sized kitchens and even though they were roughly 70 square me­tres, you can tell by the land around them that these were places where fam­i­lies were meant to be brought up. I love them for that. I think I an­noyed my col­leagues for years be­cause when­ever we talked about the hous­ing cri­sis and the need to build town­houses and apart­ments at scale, I would al­ways talk about Free­mans Bay Park – four-storey apart­ments that were re­ally fit for pur­pose. They were built to last and beau­ti­fully de­signed. And they had com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in them. I also love their his­tory. These were Coun­cil owned and when John Banks [then Mayor of Auck­land City] sold them, Prime Min­is­ter Helen Clark de­cided she didn’t want them to be com­pletely lost. To this day they con­tinue to be lived in by a mix­ture of owne­roc­cu­piers, ren­ters and Hous­ing New Zealand ten­ants. When I lived here, there were a cou­ple of older res­i­dents and longer-term res­i­dents who had been here for years – they’d keep an eye on the place. There were peo­ple who came and went, but there were oth­ers who, even though they were ren­ters, this was their home.”

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