Waitakere Gardens Retirement Village turns 20

Yesterday (Thu 24 Oct) Waitakere Gardens (now part of the MetlifeCare Group) celebrated it’s 20 Anniversary of Stage 1 opening in 1999.

Peter Bourke (our client and MD of Vision Senior Living) and I were invited for the party with over 360 current residents and the Village team.

Pacific Environments were the Architects for the 324 apartments and significant community facilities, master planned in 1997 and spanned 10 stages over as many years on the old Corban Vineyard and Henderson timber mill in the heart of Henderson, West Auckland.

It was an evening of reminiscing of the wider success of one of our defining projects (over $200M in today’s terms) that also saw the beginning of Pacific Environment’s growth and knowledge in designing Retirement Village and Aged Care projects, to become one of NZ’s leading Architects in this industry.

It was a game-changing project for the industry leading the trend towards master planned intensive developments of multilevel buildings (4-6 stories high) close to city centres where land costs are at a premium. Waitakere Gardens won a NZ Property Council Award for it’s leading edge innovative approach in design, construction and financial return on investment, while becoming Auckland Council’s exemplar for successful high-density developments.

It’s significant design features came from the team not being constrained by past designs, but a fresh view, questioning everything including undertaking wide research. This involved a study-tour to California and Florida in 1999, the overview reinforced the unique design already approved;

  • A central atrium as an ‘indoor street’ from which the community facilities focus as the Village ‘Heart’. Many villages have attempted to replicate, but few have got close!!

  • Well-appointed apartments designed to address the exterior (sun and views) and the interior atrium – connection to the community

  • Blokes Shed and Potting Shed, the best equipped sheds in Auckland with the remnants of the residents home workshops and tools of trade! The potting shed and nursery provide fresh fruit and vegetables all year round.

  • Planting an original 100 year old Corbin grape-root stock in the vineyard and seeing it thrive

  • A skybridge connection over a new road to the upper portion of the site to 6x storied apartments

Overall, the design reinforced the adopted philosophy of ‘Communities in Communities’, where the buildings and spaces are the essential backdrop for the residents who are the village. This was very evident in the many humbling conversations had with the current residents who are thriving in a lifestyle that many would perhaps not have had prior to making the decision to move into the village.

There are of course many stories, from the grand vision and steadfast determination of the developer Peter Bourke back in 1997 to make a difference and many more made by the happy residents who have chosen to call this home.

We wish MetlifeCare’s Waitakere Gardens the very best for the next milestone.

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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