Developer-owned rentals are key to solving our housing crisis, says award-winning Maori architect
Dr Anthony Hoete (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Ranana) is a Maori architect and teacher with a passion for finding practical affordable and sustainable housing solutions, and he has a strong focus on Maori housing.
“If you fix Maori housing, you start fixing all housing,” he says. Things.
The architect has just won the International Architecture category of the 2021 Te Kāhui Whaihanga NZIA Awards with Costa Street, a block of houses to be built in the cosmopolitan area of Peckham, London, UK, on the former site of what the tabloids called “the most expensive hut in Brittany”.
Hoete wasn’t just the architect – he was also the developer and general contractor, overseeing all trades, and he still owns the apartments. He believes that continuous ownership is a concept that encourages better quality, more sustainable construction and secure tenure for tenants.
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The project was recognized by the NZIA jury as a typology that could inform architectural thinking in Aotearoa, which is essentially why Hoete returned last year after 30 years to his practice WHAT_Architecture in London.
He had a job offer as a professor at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture: “After practicing architecture for 30 years, my conscience was piqued and I thought I should try to do this stuff here. I wanted to bring back the things I know – London has similar housing affordability issues.
“I thought I could work on Maori-based research – not producing Maori housing books, but producing Maori housing.”
Hoete specializes in niche developments of less than 10 units. He says Covid-19 had frightening ramifications, which could have impacted his financial situation, but the UK government allowed construction to continue during the lockdown.
“I could have gone bankrupt”
“I could have gone bankrupt if we had to delay that last build,” Hoete says. “I grew up in Kawerau and there was no family money behind me. Last year there were no vaccinations. to occupy.
The award-winning “prototype” apartments he managed to complete, just before returning home in August 2020, are built using cross-laminated timber (CLT), which has the advantage of rapid construction on site, better fire resistance and a very precise computerized cut that minimizes waste.
“My plan is to take this project to London and reconfigure it here,” he says. “It’s good to be able to come back and work with the communities here.
“My dream is to find a site – it’s important to be the developer who brings in the money and sets the vision for the project. The goal is to work with like-minded people who can see the value in their contribution .
Blair and Jules MacKinnon are the developer-owners of the apartments at 26 Aroha Ave. (Video first screened in June 2020)
Home ownership is not the goal
Hoete says housing doesn’t have to be something you own. “Home ownership in Germany is only 50%. We have this Anglo-Saxon model where we think home ownership is vital, which makes housing a commodity.
“I don’t build to sell. A cynical developer might not be as interested in quality – they might be mostly profit-driven, looking to maximize the “outcome”.
“Holding the asset is definitely the best way to do things; the building will be of better quality and robust.
Hoete says these are also optimal densities, meaning apartment buildings or townhouses, not single-family homes.
He also strongly believes in building with sustainable, natural materials – there are no plasterboards in his award-winning development.
Design for multi-generational families
The architect believes that designing for intergenerational living is paramount to papakāinga – as families bring in grandparents. “As we get older, we invariably end up living with the kids. We’re going to have three generations in the same house and we have to make sure it works.
Hoete says he can even envision 30-bedroom houses, with around 100 people living in a single, very large building with centralized kitchen facilities – “kind of like a modernized marae, but not with scattered buildings”.
“There would be one or two kitchens, one or two dining rooms and different living areas for different activities, whether for young people, noisy or quiet environments.
“We could even consider timeshare-type facilities for Maori wishing to return to their land for special occasions, such as weddings and tangi. It is now quite common for hapū (groups of Maori with a common ancestor) to number 5,000 members. If you have a block of Maori land, you can practically build a house.
Insurance – “we must advocate for radical change”
Hoete also researches insurance, believing that the current system leaves the responsibility to the council when things go wrong with housing, which in turn is a cost borne by taxpayers.
“We have to advocate for radical change, policy change for insurance. We need to get away from the ‘last man standing’ responsibility that ends up being the council taking the bill when the developer disappears.
It’s a formidable workload, but this multi-award-winning architect brings a wealth of international experience and kudos to his new role. Watch this place.