Model cit­i­zen

A prob­lem-solv­ing sub­di­vi­sion in Wanaka

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“We had an ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship with the devel­op­ers Stu and Mel Pin­fold, who live across the road,” says Louise Wright of Assem­bly Ar­chi­tects, which de­signed ‘Stack­brae’, a 31-house sub­di­vi­sion just out­side Wanaka. “They wanted to cre­ate a well-de­signed sub­di­vi­sion with­out slow­ing things down. So we came up with a new de­vel­op­ment model.” How is Stack­brae dif­fer­ent to other sub­di­vi­sions? Sub­di­vi­sions with covenanted de­sign con­trol tend to pro­duce good de­sign out­comes, but of­ten come with slow and ex­pen­sive de­sign-ap­proval pro­cesses. At Stack­brae, the buyer pur­chases a sec­tion with a build­ing con­sent, and is covenanted to build in ac­cor­dance with that con­sent. The de­sign work and con­sent­ing is usu­ally com­plete when the own­ers pur­chase and they can start build­ing al­most straight away. De­sign wise, what was the pitch? First, we ig­nored the dis­trict plan res­i­den­tial rules. So there are no side or back yards – we sited the houses on bound­aries to form good court­yard gar­dens be­tween them. It’s quite a dense sub­di­vi­sion [for Wanaka] with sites at 450 square me­tres, yet each house has a court­yard gar­den, north-fac­ing glass, framed moun­tain views and pri­vacy. How much choice do own­ers get and how have they re­sponded? We pro­vided choice in the sub­di­vi­sion by pro­vid­ing a num­ber of dif­fer­ent house sizes and types. There’s lit­tle or no choice to change the ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ance of a house, but in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion was left to own­ers to per­son­alise as they wish. How many houses did you de­sign and how long did that take? There are 31 houses on 21 sec­tions, and we had a num­ber of peo­ple work­ing on the project over about a year – we’re cur­rently work­ing on stage two, to be re­leased next year. There is cer­tainly econ­omy of scale for the pro­duc­tion of the re­source-con­sent and build­ing-con­sent doc­u­men­ta­tion – we cov­ered the build­ing con­trols of all 31 houses in only two re­source con­sents. But where the time is re­ally saved is that we can have own­ers start­ing to build six weeks af­ter set­tle­ment on the land. How did the process work with the lo­cal coun­cil? We en­gaged early on with Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil to en­sure our in­ter­nal pro­cesses would suit the con­sent­ing process. What’s the ad­van­tage of this ap­proach, ver­sus a group builder just knock­ing them all out? We were able to fo­cus on the space be­tween the houses and en­sure that each re­spected its neigh­bour. While the homes have in­di­vid­u­al­ity, there’s co­he­sion and con­sis­tency of qual­ity to the street, and the in­di­vid­ual own­ers have taken great pride in the place.

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