Apr 5, 2024

Navigating Community Housing Development: Insights from Voxell's Experience

The evolving landscape of community housing in New Zealand presents a multifaceted challenge for architectural firms, requiring a balance between affordability, sustainability, and quality. Our recent collaborations on projects such as the Tama Street Development with Urban Plus and the developments on Saint Aubyn Street East and Tomoana Road with the Tumu Group in Hastings have provided valuable insights into working with community housing developers. These experiences have reinforced our commitment to creating high-quality, sustainable living spaces and allowed us to refine our approach to better serve our clients and the communities we impact.

Embracing Sustainability in Design

For clients like Urban Plus and Tumu Group, sustainability is a top priority, reflecting their commitment to reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainable living. At Voxell, we’ve learned that integrating sustainable design services, such as our in-house Homestar assessor reviews, into the architectural process is essential as early as possible. This approach helped to ensure that there was a focus on sustainability from the beginning and that projects could meet their sustainability objectives without any surprises down the line.  Adhering to stringent sustainability criteria can be challenging, but it is crucial for delivering healthier, more cost-effective living spaces that enhance community well-being and contribute to sustainable urban development. 

Voxell’s in house Homestar Lead, Steve Dixon, explains ‘From my experience, particularly with frameworks such as Homestar, it's clear that securing a Homestar design rating before breaking ground isn't just a formality — it's indispensable for ensuring clarity to both clients and contractors. Sustainable design isn't something to tack on later; it's the bedrock that shapes our designs from the beginning.

Key learning: Integrating sustainability into the design process as early as possible is essential for achieving sustainability project objectives efficiently.  

Innovative Architectural Design

Modern design that utilizes space well and creates vibrant, connected living environments is essential for enhancing well-being. We've learned that focusing on designs that foster a sense of community and connectivity is key to successful community housing developments. Incorporating elements that promote natural light, airflow, and communal spaces can significantly impact residents' overall quality of life. 

Key learning: Designing for connectivity and community enhances resident well-being.

Collaboration, Coordination, and Customer Service

Effective collaboration and coordination is crucial in the success of these developments - but we’ve seen the most success, when it is proactively led by the architect, even though some designers may not agree that it is their responsibility to take the lead on this.  At Voxell, we have found that playing a proactive role in managing collaborations between our clients, consultants, and local consenting authorities is pivotal in navigating potential challenges and ensuring compliance with regulatory, design, and sustainability standards. Additionally, maintaining clear communication, fostering collaboration, and implementing stringent quality control are vital for client satisfaction and project success. 

Key learning: Proactive collaboration and clear communication are key to project success.

Cost-Effective Design and Risk Management

Our clients consistently emphasize the importance of cost-effective design and risk management. We've learned that reducing construction risks and enhancing cost management is vital for staying on time and on budget, ultimately ensuring a positive return on investment. At Voxell, we’ve tried and tested many different tech solutions to enable our team to do this more efficiently. Incorporating new technologies like xx and strategies that manage risks from the outset and closely monitor project progress is key to delivering successful outcomes. 

Key learning: Effective risk management is critical for delivering projects on time and on budget.

Community Housing Developers specialised ways of working

Community housing developers in New Zealand offer a promising solution to the nation's housing shortfall, with their local insight, efficient delivery, and commitment to quality. Their unique position allows for innovation and the exploration of diverse housing models, including various density solutions. By leveraging their strengths in partnership with the government, these developers could significantly contribute to creating sustainable and community-focused housing solutions. 

Key learning: Community Housing Developers offer specific benefits such a genuine local knowledge that an be leveraged, read more here.

Completing the Urban Plus and Tumu Group projects has provided valuable lessons in managing complex projects and contributing to New Zealand’s housing landscape. These projects have reinforced the importance of sustainability, effective collaboration, and cost-effective design in meeting and exceeding quality expectations. Our ongoing dedication to fostering sustainable, high-quality living environments benefits individuals and the broader community, marking significant steps forward in our commitment to sustainable development.