In October 2016 we were commissioned by the New Zealand Government social housing agency Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) to design a “pop up” emergency social housing village. With the Auckland population increasing and housing demand not keeping up, the housing shortfall was being graphically illustrated during the winter of 2016 by media stories of families forced out of rental housing and living in cars, or literally on the street. The intention of this village was to provide short term “emergency” housing (under three months), while longer term accommodation was found by social housing providers.

The village of 41 new houses was to be built very quickly, to get residents in accommodation as soon as possible, and is in Luke Street, Otahuhu, Auckland; on Ministry of Education land that was being held for a future school. It was designed, documented and consented within 4 weeks, and the first residents moved in 3 months later into fast built modular houses constructed to the NZ Building Code. The village was opened in late February 2017 by Prime Minister Bill English.

The village has a lifespan of ten years, the houses will then be shifted to other sites as required at that time.  Fences and landscaping is demountable and will be re distributed to other HNZC sites at that time as well.

As this is short term temporary accommodation, a different approach was taken than if it was long term. Emergency bush fire villages in Victoria, and temporary villages built in Christchurch after the 2011 earthquakes were reviewed and resident feedback informed this design. Examples were a perceived lack of privacy, and ambiguous public or communal spaces. In response the dwellings here were laid out with a range of outdoor spaces, from a sunny private courtyard that could not be seen into from the street, to a transitional veranda entry space on the houses facing the streets. Houses were placed to form socially active streets with robust CPTED surveillance principles in place.   Feedback from social agencies such as Salvation Army and Monte Cecelia Trust to the development has been very positive.

The site layout has internal blocks of houses facing streets, as well as houses facing Luke Street itself to engage the site with the road and its residential character.  These design principles are transferrable to other sites and the format is currently being implemented in other cities in New Zealand with a stockpile of modular houses being built for use on future sites.  

Pacific Environments is committed to architectural design excellence, creating inspiring 'fit for purpose' built environment solutions for our clients. 


Sustainability, lifestyle and the creation of enduring investment value is core to our design philosophy.

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09 308 0070  |  info@penzl.co.nz

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