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The high life

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Well-appointed high-rise apartments – with good amenities and close proximity to shops and restaurants – are a feature of today's city

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The traditional kiwi quarter-acre paradise is slowly being relegated to another era, as young couples, families and empty-nesters alike realise the advantages of apartment living. Pressure on urban sites and a faster pace of life are both contributing to this change.

Architect Kerry Avery says apartment living gives homeowners more time to pursue interests and leisure activities outside the home.

"Apartments often provide access to luxury facilities such as pools and gymnasiums, and body corporates generally employ staff to carry out building and garden maintenance," he says.

Size is also a factor, Avery says, as many new apartments today are more than twice as large as a standard New Zealand home.

"They are efficient, open plan, well orientated and more spacious than traditional homes. Often, they have generous stud heights, designer kitchens and bathrooms, and large terraces with built-in barbecues and extraction systems."

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The five-level apartment featured on these pages is a good example of these trends. Spacious and contemporary, it was purpose-built using commercial quality, solid precast concrete with a ceramic quartz exterior finish.

"The natural aggregates we chose for the exterior are almost colourfast and maintenance-free, which is important with shared ownership buildings," Avery says.

"Apartments such as this are primarily designed for couples in their 50s or 60s. Often, their families have left home and they have lived previously in a traditional suburban house, never dreaming they would end up in a multi-level apartment building. These people are looking for something timeless and classical, rather than edgy in its design."

The building's contemporary exterior reflects features of other modern houses in the area. By excavating to create a basement, the apparent height at the street frontage has been limited to three storeys, in keeping with neighbouring houses.

The building is angled for the sun, creating empty triangular corners on the site that have been landscaped. The angled layout also ensures there is no parallel window-to-window contact with neighbouring homes.

As well as being close to cafés and shops, the development includes extensive landscaping, a lap pool and outdoor entertaining areas. Each apartment has harbour and city views, spacious interiors, and European designer kitchens. Carparking and security are other features that make apartments such as these attractive to many homeowners, says the architect.

Inside furniture consultant Dinah Malyon has added traditional touches to the apartment's contemporary flavour. Walls are neutral and colour is introduced through furnishings and artwork.

"Most people don't enjoy living in something that looks like a showhome with white leather sofas and glass tables," she says. "They want a comfortable, warm and welcoming interior. There, a mix of modern and antique pieces gives an eclectic feel and prevents the space from appearing sterile."

First published date: 15 June 2005

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Credit List

Location 36 St Stephens Avenue, Parnell, Auckland
Developer SMG Properties
Architect Kerry Avery, Nicholas Melrose, Avery Team Architecture (Auckland)
Interior designer Parlante Architectural Designers
Structural engineers Brown & Thomson, Preece & Associates
Quantity surveyor Dean Murray & Partners
Fire consultants Gibson Consultants
Earthworks Eban Norman Earthmovers
Landscaping Nigel Cameron
Cladding Ceramitz from Auckland Property Restoration
Roof Soprasun from Mohan Waterproofing
Balconies and balustrades Pengelly Engineers
Heating and air conditioning Comfort Zone
Window and door joinery Ryan Aluminium
External louvres Sunshield Louvres
Hardware Linea stainless steel from FL Bone
Furnishings Dinah Malyon, DMI Home Stagers
Tiling Trethewey Granite and Marble
Flooring Cavalier Bremworth's Eurhymy range from John Kasper Carpets
Paint Resene
Lighting Fabbian
Kitchen Arclinea from Matisse
Fireplaces Real Fires
Security Signature Security
Bathrooms LG Carder
Toilet Duravit
Heated towelrail DCS
Tapware Paini
Bath Bette Starlet
Basins Duravit Bacino