Positive Developments

Jalcon Homes join forces with a celebrated architecture group to eye up intensification.

Positive Developments

Jalcon Homes join forces with a celebrated architecture group to eye up intensification.

As Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland intensifies, the quality of the developments we build is coming under scrutiny. We don’t just want to live in more houses, we want to live in better houses. Jalcon Homes, working with the celebrated Stevens Lawson Architects, has made a name for design-led developments in recent years that show just how good living more densely can be. “It’s creating space,” says Jalcon’s development manager Jacob Aitken. “Gary Lawson and I have similar values: we both want to create something a bit different for the community.”

You started as a bespoke design-build company. Why did you shift to bigger developments? 

It’s about having control of the process within larger developments like Hobsonville Point. You’re not competing against others, and you’re creating your own feel.

Why did you start working with Stevens Lawson Architects? 

We have our own in-house design team, but when we got into density, we wanted to have a design edge and be leaders to create a point of difference. The partnership with SLA was fitting – it gave us that edge.

People are a bit afraid of density moving in next door, aren’t they?

It can look like a negative, but you also need to look at the positives. It’ll bring in more neighbours and it’s good for local businesses. It stops urban sprawl and that’s a driver for people to use public transport, and for us to improve it.

What does good density look like? 

If you create a community within a community, it’s going to be more attractive. Green space can make or break a development – can we put in a living lane or is there room for a pocket park? It’s having that space and the opportunity to meet the neighbours, to take a pause. It can really make a development more inviting.

How do you make them feel like home?

You’ve got to follow the architect’s vision – you can’t take developer shortcuts. You don’t need such big spaces, especially in the city, but you do need better spaces. We’re thinking a lot about storage and open-plan living, surprising volumes and useable outdoor areas for entertaining. And subtly improving the materials, offering a bit more comfort. We try to make the forms quite simple, but with a few good moves, you get a great outcome and value for money.

What’s next? 

We’ve just kicked off with some townhouses and apartments in Ōwairaka. It’s a mixture of standalone houses and a walk-up apartment block built from timber, with planted breezeways instead of hallways. It was about making them more sustainable, but they’ve also got the look and feel of a house rather than an apartment. Then we started thinking, “Why can’t we do it in other parts of the city?” So we’re trying to standardise and modularise the design. We’d like people to recognise them as Jalcon-Stevens Lawson designs. 

This story was produced in association with Jalcon.

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