8 June 2016

High-Rise Heaven

Apartments are cool – just ask the baby boomers


share

Architect Colin Leuschke knows a thing or two about the apartment business...

With several thousand apartments under his belt, more than 600 in construction, and many more on the boards, he is Auckland's most prolific apartment designer. John Williams caught up with Colin at his stylish new penthouse on Ponsonby Rd to discuss downsizing and design.

Architect, Colin Leuschke, enjoys fabulous views back to the city from his rooftop penthouse garden on Ponsonby Road.

Architect, Colin Leuschke, enjoys fabulous views back to the city from his rooftop penthouse garden on Ponsonby Road.

As we sit on his deck looking out over the Auckland skyline, I ask Colin, out all his designs, which is his favourite? Quick as a flash, he says, “Well, they’re like women… there are blondes and brunettes. They’re all different.”

OK, let me re-phrase that. Which one stands out? “Princess Wharf. But it sticks out, rather stands out,” he quips. “It’s not an iconic high rise, but a wharf that sticks out a kilometre into the harbour.” “You know, it only took three months to get resource consent for that project. The chairman of the then ARC said he liked it, grabbed his chief town planner and said, put it through. It really took Auckland City Council by surprise,” he chuckles. Princes Wharf was possibly the first luxury waterfront apartment complex in the city and, looking at it now, against a backdrop of its contemporaries, it’s still a design that stands apart.

A large island benchtop stands at the centre of this penthouse apartment, flanked by a luxurious blue sofa in the TV nook at the far end and a marble-topped dining table at the other. A Tom Dixon pendant light adds the finishing touch.

A large island benchtop stands at the centre of this penthouse apartment, flanked by a luxurious blue sofa in the TV nook at the far end and a marble-topped dining table at the other. A Tom Dixon pendant light adds the finishing touch.

Looking back to the city again, Colin points to the distinctive sculpted roofline of the ASB building on North Wharf. “Isn’t that a joyous, decorative building? The sad thing is, its architecture is from an offshore designer," he bemoans. "We are very conservative and restrained with our bigger buildings in Auckland. We are very self conscious; we don’t want to offend our peers, our neighbours, our old school chums, or our Auntie Muriel,” he laughs.

“Apartments are now a viable alternative without losing social status.”

Bringing Colin back on topic, I asked him about the current trend of baby-booming empty nesters, like himself, flocking to sell their family piles in Remuera and opting for the bright lights of the city, as an apartment dweller. “There has been a huge sea change,” he admits. “Previously, my peer group regarded people who lived in apartments as impoverished, but that thinking has changed dramatically over the past few years."

Fretted steel shutters on the front of the building give privacy from Ponsonby Road. They also cast beautiful shadows in the late afternoon sun.

Fretted steel shutters on the front of the building give privacy from Ponsonby Road. They also cast beautiful shadows in the late afternoon sun.

And he speaks from experience, as he and his architect wife, Lindy, are one of those eastern-suburb migrants that have exchanged their comfortable family home for a penthouse in the wild west of Ponsonby. So how’s apartment living treating them? “We love it. It's fantastic,” he smiles. “We have a beach house where we spend our weekends, and during the week we’re here, right on Ponsonby Rd… and loving every minute of it.”

What’s the biggest difference about living in an apartment, I ask him?

“The lack of responsibility. You’re not responsible for lawns, for swimming pools, for hedges… I find living in an apartment quite an irresponsible act,” grins, Colin.

The only downside Colin can think of is that apartments don’t enjoy the same capital gain as owning a house and land. But saying that, it could all change because the developers are currently using all the best bits of land along Auckland’s ridge lines for their new apartments. Down the track, they will have to settle for less attractive sites, leaving the current crop of high-rises in the driving seat when it comes to resale.

This brings me to me next question. What advice would he give someone looking to become an apartment dweller?

“The smaller number of apartments in the development, the better,” he says. “That way you will have more say in what happens to you and your environment. Also, look at the quality of the building. Pick a good builder. Find out who designed it, and the overall intent of what the project was trying to achieve – whether it’s an investment block of flats, or a quality development intended for owner-occupiers.”

Huge Corten steel planters were craned up onto Colin’s rooftop garden. Large sliding doors give the Leuschke’s great indoor-outdoor flow onto the deck.

Huge Corten steel planters were craned up onto Colin’s rooftop garden. Large sliding doors give the Leuschke’s great indoor-outdoor flow onto the deck.

Going back to size, Colin said something interesting in passing... “A 90m2 apartment is bigger than a 90m2 house.” What does he mean by that? “Well, in apartments you rarely have hallways and staircases – there’s no lost space – you just flow from one room to the next. Every space is used.”

Is buying off the plan a good idea?

“It is if the market is heading in the right direction, but you need to do your research on the developer and the builder. If I were buying off the plan, I’d want the builder nominated in the contract.”

Lastly, looking back to the city from Colin’s vantage, high up on the Ponsonby ridge, I asked him what his thoughts were on the wall of apartments that dominate the city’s skyline from the west? “We were not involved in any of those buildings,” he says. “Back in those days, the council didn’t have any rules around what buildings looked like. What the council didn’t anticipate was how blunt developers could be, so we ended up with a lot of utilitarian buildings that now occupy the plum sites in the city, with all the best western views. And now we have them forever,” he adds.

And on that sober note we went and got a beer and watched the sun going down over the Waitakeres – the view from the other side of Colin’s deck.

http://www.leuschke.co.nz/ 

 

share

Return to blog

More recent posts

19 November 2020

A Wall of Colour


Regardless of how big or small the scale of a home decorating or renovation project, there is usually a well-intentioned rationale behind selecting paint colours. Whether agreeing on a singl…

More
12 November 2020

Manna From Heaven


Award-winning baker Patrick Welzenbach talks about his unique ancestry and what makes Daily Bread, his bakery in Point Chevalier, so special.

More
5 November 2020

A walk in the park… with sculptures


A sculpture trail is a great way to combine an enjoyment of art with a pleasant walk – and Auckland has plenty of excellent options

More
29 October 2020

Ray White Damerell Group partners with Custom Residential


Ray White Damerell Group has continued their impressive growth with the people of Grey Lynn set to benefit from a newly announced rebrand of Custom Residential to Ray White Grey Lynn.

More
15 October 2020

Better By Design


From integration to automation, we discuss the latest trends in kitchen appliances with four of Auckland’s top kitchen designers.

More
8 October 2020

Climb Every Maunga


The beautiful parks, reserves and open spaces in just about every suburb of Auckland are a vivid legacy of Auckland’s fiery and explosive past.

More
1 October 2020

Blank Canvas


Sitting on its own at the end of a row of ten units at the bottom of Shelley Beach Road in St Mary’s Bay is a very private and a quite extraordinary little home. Half art gallery, half inner…

More
1 October 2020

Blank Canvas


Sitting on its own at the end of a row of ten units at the bottom of Shelley Beach Road in St Mary’s Bay is a very private and a quite extraordinary little home. Half art gallery, half inner…

More
17 September 2020

Food for thought


When dining has a social purpose.

More

Contact Us

Are you interested in knowing more about one of these articles? Please fill out the form below to get in contact with us.