Homeground Te Tapui Atawhai exterior

HomeGround | Te Tapui Atawhai


Joshua Warne / Stevens Lawson Architects

4. Mid-rise building design award

Photographed by: 
Mark Smith

With a vision to end chronic homelessness in central Auckland, Auckland City Mission – Te Tapui Atawhai has opened HomeGround, a centre for integrated health and community services alongside residential accommodation.

Stevens Lawson Architects started on this journey with the City Mission and mana whenua in 2006, working with the Common Ground principles, a supportive housing model developed in New York City in the 1990s. By bringing permanent housing, wraparound care, and addiction support together on the same site, Auckland City Mission is able to substantially reduce homelessness in the community in a sustainable way.

On the high-profile Hobson Street site, three low-rise buildings have been removed to allow for site intensification and maximum buildable area. Spanning the motorway feeder that is Hobson Street to the quiet, mixed-use Federal Street, HomeGround is embedded into its urban context. Wide public entrances, a laneway, and a retail edge on Federal Street connect the building into the city, reinforcing the City Mission’s values of ‘housing for all’.

The facility spans 12,500 sqm, encompassing a new eleven-storey tower, a podium, and a restored heritage building. Significantly, the City Mission can now offer permanent accommodation with 80 studio and one-bedroom apartments for chronically homeless people and people on the social housing register. Apartments are small yet self-contained, with access to a range of communal spaces and private outdoor terraces made safe for people living with trauma.

The combination of accommodation and support services ensures the City Mission team can respond to people in an integrated and holistic way. Facilities include a commercial kitchen and community dining room, public showers and toilets, a public medical centre and pharmacy, addiction withdrawal services, activity spaces, a rooftop garden and a sacred space.

In addition to its visionary social agenda, HomeGround’s major innovation is the use of mass timber construction. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is the main structural system for the building, including stair and lift cores, making HomeGround the tallest structural timber building in New Zealand. The timber structure is supported by a concrete and steel podium and basement, and uses exterior steel dia-grid cross-braces for lateral stability. Utilising off-site manufacturing and standardisation, these technologies provide a lightweight, prefabricated response to an inner-city site to minimise the building’s embodied energy, structural depths, construction time and onsite labour.

The durable CLT panels are exposed in all common spaces within the building to express the unique construction and convey the warmth and familiarity of timber common to New Zealand homes.

As a ‘home for all’, HomeGround is safe, secure, warm and equitable physically and socially. Spatial legibility and cognition are important features for any human environment, yet even more so for people suffering from trauma, health issues or addiction. HomeGround features spaces that are carefully calibrated for an experience of nurture and protection, discovery and delight. This is care-informed architecture, where every element – from the spatial arrangement to the celebrated use of timber construction – is designed to provide safety and promote recovery.