HomeGround | Te Tapui Atawhai


Joshua Warne / Stevens Lawson Architects

8. Sustainable development award

Photographed by: 
Mark Smith

HomeGround is a visionary social services and supportive living facility; one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the world. Operating across multiple social, cultural and ecological measures, this project embodies manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga, and sets a benchmark for low embodied carbon high rise buildings in New Zealand.

An independent third-party review has assessed the design and construction of HomeGround against Greenstar, Homestar and the Living Building Challenge. The principles that guided the design by Stevens Lawson Architects were noted to align strongly with the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge – creating spaces that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

The project narrative developed by mana whenua Ngati Whatua Orakei is founded on the idea ‘Finding your way back home’. The story of people, place and purpose has led to a symbolic yet pragmatic building. Gabled roof forms evoke the image of a large house – a place of shelter and care for people who find themselves out of home, while the diagonal bracing evoking patterns from Maori weaving.

Material selections of timber, brick and terracotta on the exterior and in the public spaces are robust yet friendly and welcoming, reinforcing the building’s purpose and cultural narrative with an earthy materiality. The architecture throughout makes generous use of natural light, cultivating a feeling of warmth and space through its palette of muted colours, natural materials and organic shapes.

A large number of the Auckland City Mission’s clients are of Maori or Pasifika descent, and the development of the design reflects and respects this connection, aiming to provide a sense of identity and manaakitanga. A whanau room, Te Manawa Ora, provides a sacred space to acknowledge and celebrate Maori tikanga; artwork and installations integrated throughout create a sense of home, healing and belonging to support the client’s journey.

HomeGround’s innovative use of mass timber construction was a pivotal outcome for reducing the building’s carbon impact. A lifecycle assessment analysis of the primary building envelope indicates an 80% reduction in carbon over a 60 year life compared with a reference building of standard steel/concrete construction insulated to the New Zealand Building Code. HomeGround achieves a total embodied carbon footprint of 129 kgCO2e/m2 compared to a reference building carbon footprint of 638 kgCO2e/m2. Mass timber construction allowed for reduced building weight and foundations, reduced concrete and steel, extensive off-site manufacturing and assembly, and transport reductions by being locally manufactured.

Refurbishment of the Prince of Wales heritage building further reduced the carbon impact of the project by restoring the former Auckland City Mission premises, salvaging kauri timbers for reuse, and rebuilding the 1880’s timber façade.

The vision of the Auckland City Mission is for sustained social change and ultimately the end of chronic homelessness in central Auckland; HomeGround is conceived and executed as a landmark in the city that advances this kaupapa. Culturally appropriate in its design and configuration, and constructed according to sustainable ecological principles, it symbolises that having a home is a right for every member of society.