Central Park Architects Earn Major National Award

12 May 2014

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has congratulated architects Novak & Middleton who have won a NZ Architecture Award for the redesign and upgrade of the Central Park apartments.

Central Park apartments.

“This award is deserved recognition for an inspired transformation of a drab 1960s apartment building into social housing fit for the 21st century,” Mayor Wade-Brown says.

“Congratulations to Simon Novak and Greg Lagoutaris who have led a successful design team and done a brilliant job. I know the residents of Central Park also love their new apartments. We’re a city that cares for our most vulnerable citizens.”

Councillor Paul Eagle, Chair of Wellington City Council’s Community, Sport and Recreation Committee, added that the upgrade has combined the technical challenges of earthquake strengthening, improving security and bringing these homes and community spaces up to modern standards. 

“Providing social housing in Wellington is a core public service for our Council – we’re honoured to be rewarded for making sure those most in need have a decent roof over their head and somewhere they can now feel proud to call home.”

The $34 million Central Park project is part of the $400 million upgrade of the City Council’s social housing stock. The 20-year project, which started in 2008, is 50:50-funded by the Crown and the City Council.

According to the award citation, read at Friday evening’s NZ Institute of Architects awards event in Auckland: 

“A tired and socially dysfunctional Council apartment complex has been transformed by means of intelligent re-organisation and relatively minor structural alterations. The original 1960s architecture has been given due respect, but its scale has been broken down and articulated on a more sympathetic scale. A ground level car park has been transformed into an engaging communal park, existing garages and under-croft spaces have been converted to much-needed community rooms, and new balconies have been added. The strategy of fragmenting the apartment complex into smaller clusters has dramatically improved the apartments’ safety, seismic performance and circulation, and has promoted a sense of community. This is a good story of architecture having a positive impact on hundreds of lives.”

The City Council’s Housing Manager, Vicki McLaren, says the transformation of Central Park has been positive and significant to the extent that “we regularly receive enquiries from members of the public – who can see the site from Brooklyn Hill Road - about whether they can buy an apartment.”

She says the award is also a tribute to main contractor LT McGuinness, structural engineers Dunning Thornton and the more than 750 contractors and subcontractors who worked onsite over the two-year project duration.

Central Park apartments – facts and figures

  • The $34.4 million revamp of the complex – at the bottom of the Brooklyn Hill – is one of the largest single-site projects so far in the 20-year housing upgrade programme.
  • The site’s original stock of 213 units has been reconfigured to 190 units, but many enlarged apartments suitable for families allow more people to be housed overall. Central Park Apartments is now home to 253 occupants.
  •  Architects Novak & Middleton along with contractor LT McGuinness began work at Central Park in June 2010, completed in August 2012, on schedule and on budget.
  •  The five-building complex, dating from the late 1960s, was transformed. The work included major seismic strengthening, landscaping, improved kitchens and bathrooms, improved security, rubbish and recycling facilities, lighting, better ventilation, thermal and acoustic insulation, double glazing and purpose built communal facilities.
  • One key design element has been the development of a shared community space – reducing the need for individual private spaces at neighbouring Council complexes. A redundant ground floor car park has been transformed into a community centre that will be shared with residents from the Council’s neighbouring Berkeley Dallard Apartments, Pukehinau, Etona and Nairn Street Flats. It includes a tenancy advisor’s office, medical room, recreation rooms and laundry facilities.
  • Another feature was to enhance access and security in the buildings. “Horizontal’ access (via communal landings) to the apartments once opened to the public was changed to ‘vertical’ access. Residents now only have access to their own blocks which has greatly improved security and peace-of-mind for tenants. This means instead of from having over 200 ‘neighbours’ tenants have about 30 immediate neighbours and are now likely to get to know who they are. It’s hoped this will encourage more people to get to know each other within the blocks.

Housing Upgrade Programme – awards to date

HUP projects have won seven architectural awards to date within New Zealand, as well as being shortlisted for an International award. Central Park has received three previous awards for housing, earthquake strengthening and enhancement of the built environment.

 Overall Projects and Management
  • Australasian Housing Institute (AHI) Award for Excellence in Social Housing, New Zealand AND Australasia 2013
  • Project Management Institute of NZ (PMINZ) NZ Finalists– Project Management Office of the Year Project Manager and Emerging Project Manager of the Year 2013
  • AHI – City Housing Manager Vicki McLaren named Inspirational Colleague 2012
  • NZ Institute of Architects (NZIA) Wellington Sustainable Architecture 2010
  • AHI – Australasian Excellence in Social Housing 2013
  • AHI – Community Action Programme, Leading Innovation Award 2012
  • AHI – Wellington Association of City Housing Artists (WACHA) and Community Action’s ‘Everyone Has a Story’ exhibition: Overall Winner, Tenant Led Initiative category 2012
  • AHI Excellence Award for Engagement 2010
Newtown Park Apartments
  • Resene Residential Exterior Total Colour Awards 2013
  • Colour Maestro Nightingale Award, Resene Total Colour Awards 2013
  • NZIA Wellington Award for Housing 2013
  • NZIA Wellington Award for Sustainable Architecture 2013
Regent Park Apartments
  • NZ Property Council Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards 2013
  • NZIA Wellington Architecture Award AND New Zealand Architecture Award, Housing 2013
  • Shortlisted – World Architecture News (WAN) Awards Residential, 2012 
  • Residential Exterior Resene Total Colour Residential Award, 2012 
  • Colour Maestro Nightingale Award Resene Total Colour Awards, 2012 
  • AHI – Highly Commended in the Leading Housing Solutions category, 2012
Central Park Apartments
  • AHI – Leading Housing Project 2013, New Zealand and all of Australasia
  • Highly commended, NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering, Strengthening Award 2013
  • Wellington Civic Trust Award 2013 for Enhancement or Protection of the City’s Built Environment
Te Ara Hou Apartments
  •  NZIA – Wellington Sustainable Architecture Award 2010