The founders of Ockham Residential, Mark Todd and Benjamin Preston, started their development company back in 2009 and since then have become a well-known producer of good quality, well-designed, eco-friendly, affordable apartments, right across Auckland City.
“We really want to lead by example and make sure that Auckland’s next 20 years of development is world class and matches the quality of Auckland’s beautiful landscape,” says Mark Todd. “I want to look back at my projects and show my grandchildren that these are the buildings we built and be proud of them.”
Tania Wong, Executive Director of Architecture for Ockham Residential, talked to us about some of the apartment complexes completed and under construction, along with some of the choices she has made including the use of Firth’s stylish Solar Blocks.
Tuatahi – links back to local iwi
“Back in 2015 the Government announced an initiative to facilitate housing development on Crown-owned land,” says Tania. The Crown, through various agencies, owns approximately 500 hectares of land in Auckland with the potential for residential development. With the need to combat the housing shortage in Auckland, land was made available to various developers.
“This initiative allowed us to commence a joint venture with Marutūāhu in Mt Albert where we designed and started construction on Tuatahi,” explains Tania. “Tuatahi consists of three apartment buildings surrounding a large communal garden featuring a pool and a two-level community facility. This joint venture meant we were able to closely work with Marutūāhu Iwi on the design and incorporated the iwi’s colours of red, black and white in the façade.”
Firth’s Solar Blocks a feature on Ockham Residential’s latest complex –Tuatahi apartments
In keeping with Ockham’s cornerstone philosophies, brick and rendered masonry were chosen for their distinctly residential look, durability, and low maintenance.
Tuatahi subtly references traditional Maori design and architecture. The pitched roof forms echo those of the Marae while inspiration for the intricate brick detailing of Tuatahi’s façade was drawn from the tukutuku panels of the Marutūāhu Wharenui (meeting house) at the Auckland Museum.
“The quoining is quite a feature on Tuatahi and so are Firth’s stylish Solar Blocks which I have always really loved,” explains Tania. “The quoining and the Solar Blocks cast shadows on the façade, something that I really like about the blocks. We did look at a number of options when designing Tuatahi to complement the themed façade but Firth’s Solar Blocks came with a double use because we were able to utilise them as ventilation into the two levels of car parking above ground level. They offer natural ventilation for the building which meant we didn't have to install fans. So not only did we end up with a great decorative feature but they serve an important function as well.”
36 Wilkenson Road, Ellerslie completed
Firth Solar Blocks - a favourite
Tania explains that Ockham, either through specification or through their contractors, use a lot of Firth products. “In Tuatahi we also used Firth aggregates and created interest by creating a pattern in the driveway. Then of course there’s all the basic concrete that goes into the foundations, floor slabs and pathways. The first time we used Firth Solar Blocks was for two smaller apartment developments at numbers 8 & 36 Wilkinson Road which were designed as three level walk-ups (no lifts) and by grouping the car parking together we were able to maximise the green space. Numbers 8 and 36 Wilkinson Road really show off the Solar Blocks. I have always liked them and was glad to use them again, albeit using different pattern, at Tuatahi.”
Eco-friendly apartment living
Last year Ockham Residential proudly opened the Daisy Apartments in Kingsland. Initially, Tania says with Daisy they were targeting a Homestar rating of 9, which would have been the highest rating given to an apartment block in the country. Yet the final rating achieved by this ground-breaking project was a 10, thanks to some very clever and gutsy design elements, the latest green technologies and the inclusion of Firth’s EnviroBlend® (Eco Label concrete).
“We experimented a lot on Daisy in design terms,” says Martin King, Tania’s colleague and the Lead Architect on the Daisy project at Ockham Residential. “We have included dedicated scooter and bike parking, façade patterning, services systems (heat recovery, hot water systems, solar power generation, rainwater harvesting) and construction methods such as Speed floor, in-situ concrete walls and Firth EnviroBlend® concrete.”
Key in helping the Ockham team achieve their unprecedented 10 Homestar rating has been the use of EcoLabel concrete from Firth. “Firth’s EcoLabel concrete, which includes a 12% cement replacement of fly ash, provided four points toward the materials credit which was a significant amount, 73% of the concrete in the building was Firth EcoLabel,” says Martin.
The 10 Homestar Daisy Apartment block in Kingsland