Auckland perfect for high rise villages, says international architect

A visiting international architect says that Auckland's skyline is perfect for high-rise villages, complete with swimming pools and tree-lined streets suspended high in the air.

Jaron Lubin has helped design futuristic apartment complexes in Singapore, and says there's no reason it couldn't happen here.

The Sky Habitat apartment complex in Singapore is made up of two 38 story towers with 500 apartments connected by lush green walkways, like streets in the sky.

"Everyone can have a garden, a terrace... all the amenities of living in the suburbs but now you're living in the cities close to work," Mr Lubin says.

That means fewer cars on the roads and the end of tiny shoebox apartments.

But, with a condo costing anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million dollars, there's one obvious reason we aren't seeing villages in the skies above Auckland just yet.

Property consultant John Long says "This is driven by really high land values and government regulation which keeps the land supply scarce."

Land under the Sky Habitat in Singapore cost around $560 million. But it's not just the price of land that encourages this type of building, regulation plays a part too.

Planning laws under which architects and developers operate here in New Zealand are very different to those under which they operate in Singapore, where the government offers incentives to create more green space for residents to enjoy.

In Singapore, if a developer includes a floor of green space they're allowed to build, say, 30 percent more apartments free of consenting costs.

Mr Long agrees with this approach. "That's exactly what needs to happen here... that developers are given incentives to create good amenity outcomes," he says.

While the price tag may sound out of reach, advancements in pre-fabricated construction mean values may not be sky high for long.


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