Viable housing for low-income people is a major worldwide issue of our times. Wellington City is proactively committed, working with central government on a major rejuvenation of its social housing programme, including this redevelopment of Regent Park. Replacing barrack-like rows of 38 pensioner flats, now stands an array of brightly coloured, clean-lined apartments and town houses for families, providing homes for 120 residents, including migrants and refugees.
The city’s brief emphasised healthy living spaces; clearer delineation of private and public areas; better access and integration with the neighbourhood; design consistent with community history, yet contemporary; public safety; sustainable and sensible construction, and modest cost. Situated in a natural basin, surrounded by the hills of Wellington’s Green Belt and the established style of a classic Victorian inner city community, the Regent Park project was completed in July 2012 with a successfully met budget of $NZ9.5 million.
27 units are designed to fit with the character of local houses, with strong features of vertical and horizontal lines in proportion with their neighbours. Simple construction materials like weatherboard and corrugated iron work with current insulation and heating practices in a no-nonsense partnership. Integration with neighbouring residents, streets and a park, is assured through walkways that were previously unclear. Attractive new planting complements existing vegetation and trees, adding to the impression of buildings gently nestling into their natural place.
An internal street spine binds the project into a coherent, functional whole, integrating public space and the car park to double as a communal play area - a literal park! A bright palette of colours parade around the apartments and townhouses, reinforcing a sense of optimism, hope and individuality for the new residents. Strong community interest and involvement has contributed to the project’s success. The redevelopment encourages interaction between neighbours and promotes a sense of community with great communal outdoor areas and landscaping, and enhanced security.