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Social housing stars

Social housing stars

An ambitious redesign of a dated Housing New Zealand complex, based on New Zealand’s iconic Star Flats, has won an international housing competition.

The plan to rejuvenate Cracroft Street on Parnell Rise by students from the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland was awarded first prize for the region in the UN Habitat Urban Revitalization of Mass Housing Competition.

Master’s students Herman Haringa, Adam Hunt, Kim Huynh and Ricky Wong, supervised by Senior Lecturer Mike Davis, won with a contemporary version of Housing New Zealand’s distinctive Star Flats, redesigned as attractive and affordable intensive housing.

First produced in the 1950s, the Star Flats were named for their characteristic shape. The students’ updated version focuses on fully utilising the site, with flexible options for high-density living, while also including retail and office space and areas for community services such as daycare for local residents. Their plan aims to provide solutions for Auckland’s ongoing housing shortage and unmanageable urban sprawl, while seeking to create a more sustainable city.

Cracroft Street in Parnell was selected by the students for redesign because of its proximity to Auckland’s central business district. Also, as the area had undergone extensive gentrification over the years, and the original Housing New Zealand complex looked dated and needed extensive repair, the students wanted their new plan to challenge any negative perceptions of social housing.

“People within gentrifying neighbourhoods do not want to leave, but are often forced out as the land becomes more valuable and prices rise. Housing New Zealand has the opportunity to provide high-quality housing for people who would not normally be able to live in the area, thereby creating a more cohesive urban community,” says student Adam Hunt.

By including commercial, retail and office space in the design the students sought to minimise social segregation and the impact of urban spread by allowing local residents to live and work in one place.

All four students, who are in their final-year of a Masters of Architecture (Professional) degree, are delighted by their win. The international contest, part of the UN-Habitat’s Global Housing Strategy Campaign, seeks to address the challenges of providing mass public housing worldwide.


The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the Elam School of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and Planning, the Centre for Art Studies, the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.

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