The world-renowned architect brings the lessons of London home to New Zealand
Aotearoa is experiencing a housing crisis. It is a problem we have been grappling with for decades as successive governments have tried and largely failed to solve it.
Now, an award-winning architect is bringing his knowledge from London’s housing crisis to New Zealand, saying a new type of rental model is key to increasing housing affordability and quality.
Award-winning architect and researcher Dr. Anthony Hoity (Ngati Awa, Ngati Ranana) has spent three decades working abroad, but has recently moved home to take up a professorship at the University of Auckland.
Speaking to TVNZ on Sunday, Hoyt said his last project before leaving London was one of his most important and risky.
“I could have gone bankrupt,” he said.
In London, Hoyt was frustrated by the gap between his designs and what the developers ultimately produced.
“The housing crisis means very poor quality housing in London. Some developers have been cutting costs during construction to quickly turn a profit.
“I guess with that New Zealand ‘do it yourself’ attitude, I thought it best to set up my own development company so I could oversee the process.”
He invested all his money in a South London plot of land and successfully led the design, development and construction of a unique collection of townhouses called Costa Street.
“Because I was the developer, I could decide how we spent the money, and we certainly spent it on things like windows and insulation and decent fixtures,” he said.
Another key difference between Costa Street was the lack of incentive to build quickly and cheaply because Hoyty plans to rent out the property permanently, saying the build-to-rent model encourages better housing quality and long-term investment.
“We are setting higher standards for quality and affordable housing, and I will apply those lessons to Aotearoa, New Zealand,” he said.
In addition to rethinking the future of housing through modern knowledge, Howity delves deep into the past to extract lessons from its predecessors.
Hoyt and a team from the University of Auckland recently unveiled a large-scale structure using an endangered Maori building technique called Mimeru.
Using interlocking posts and lacing with tight ropes, the miru were used by Māori as early as the 18th century.
After building the prototype near Opotiki in the eastern Bay of Plenty, Hoti’s team tested Almimero against the seismic requirements of modern buildings, proving that it could withstand strong vertical and lateral force.
“What that means in terms of building and technology in the future is mind-boggling,” he says.
“We’re talking about applying it in relation to anything from supermarkets to retail spaces. And it’s good to see how this traditional knowledge can emerge in new ways that we haven’t even thought of.
“I’m not trying to preserve the past. I think it’s my job to transform it.”