Nga Kainga Anamata project

A New Zealand public housing project is building apartment blocks out of five different materials to see what’s best for achieving net zero.

The Auckland-based project is one of 17 projects to secure a spot at the COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion.

An Australian project also made the cut, a five-storey 23,000 square metre Passive House building at Monash University in Melbourne. The Woodside Building for Technology and Design is a light-filled, rust-coloured steel building that notably has the long façade facing east to west – a departure from the usual north–south orientation used to control solar gain in many energy efficient buildings.

The building also took major accolades at this week’s 40th Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, winning the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture and The David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture. 

The New Zealand project is called Nga Kainga Anamata, which means “homes of the future”. Run by the country’s government public housing agency, Kainga Ora – Homes and Communities, the Auckland project will be beneficial because each of the five, three level apartments will be built using a different structural material.

The five construction systems on display will be mass timber/cross laminated timber?(CLT), light timber frame (LTF), precast concrete, light gauge steel and a hybrid CLT/LTF.

Nga Kainga Anamata

The plan is to directly compare the five different structural systems to determine the cost, construction times and performance of each system. This valuable data will feed into the government’s “Building for Climate Change” program, which is an action plan designed to drive down the emissions created by New Zealand building stock to meet its net zero by 2050 target. 

“ Nga Kainga Anamata seeks to resolve many underlying problems with the housing sector in Aotearoa New Zealand and is the start of a national response to climate change mitigation in the built environment,” Kainga Ora board chair Vui Mark Gosche said. 

“The homes we build today will set the path for our carbon emissions in the decades to come.” 

Aside from the varying structural materials, the 30 two-bedroom homes will be identical. They will be all-electric, with ventilated heat recovery systems and heat pumps for water. 

The walk up apartment blocks will have rooftop solar and energy efficient windows and doors, and is on track to achieve 9 Homestar, which is 3 stars above the minimum 6 that has been committed to by the state housing agency.

Nga Kainga Anamata

The development, which is part of a bigger public housing development to replace eight old state homes with 40 new ones in the Auckland suburb of Glendowie, is also meant to encourage biodiversity. It will have permeable paving stones and biodiversity corridors populated by a mixture of native trees.

Residents will also have access to a shared laundry and community centre. Sharing facilities not only keeps the resource footprint of individuals down but also helps foster a sense of community as people are more likely to bump into one another in these shared places. 

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