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The story behind the vision
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How are we doing it and what are the benefits?
At the entrance into Ngārara, off Te Moana Road, we are excited to announce the development of a small “Gateway Village” that we see as a transformational component of the first stage of our development.

This space will be designed as a thoughtful, mixed-use, sustainable community where a neighbourhood market, restaurants, retail shops and a walk to work office community are combined with residential living and public gathering areas, creating an urban village where people can live work and play.  Already confirmed is the inclusion of an early childhood centre, a shared office space and a cafe.

Growing evidence exists that connected living spaces are an important social determinant of health.  This is both because it is healthier to walk than drive, and that in meeting our neighbours on the street we end up with a wider range of intergenerational social connections.

“Tight-knit neighbourhoods and shared spaces foster interaction among residents which can strengthen social ties within the community,” Boucher, 2017.  As well as social benefits, shops with a higher population of people within walking distance are also more successful.

Growing evidence exists that connected living spaces are an important social determinant of health.  This is both because it is healthier to walk than drive, and that in meeting our neighbours on the street we end up with a wider range of intergenerational social connections.  “Tight-knit neighbourhoods and shared spaces foster interaction among residents which can strengthen social ties within the community,” Boucher, 2017.  As well as social benefits, shops with a higher population of people within walking distance are also more successful.

Increasing the density and interconnectedness of neighbourhoods creates less dependency on the use of cars and a population that can sustain a public transport system. By placing residential, commercial and recreational spaces close to each other, people can walk, cycle or use public transportation to get wherever they need to go.

By reducing distances between home, work, retail and play, Ngārara is implementing smart-growth, promoting community vibrancy and creating a place to belong.

It just makes sense.

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Why is it important?
Ngārara is a family owned development.  Our family have been part of the Waikanae community since the 1950’s and we are passionate about providing an alternative to the traditional sub-urban model.  By bridging technology, transportation, sustainability thinking and urban design, we are shifting the paradigm in development.

Our vision is not just to foster a thriving community, but to create a new way of living based on connection with people, less dependency on resource consumption and respect for the natural environment. We have done this through patient and thoughtful design, by looking beyond our borders and exploring how some of the healthiest and most vibrant communities in the world have implemented progressive design and experience the benefits from it.

Traditional urban intensification in New Zealand has been defined by the ever-expanding ‘sub-urban sprawl’.  It is now widely recognised that low density sub-urban development can be characterised by increased social isolation, greater environmental impacts, higher community infrastructure costs, and higher housing costs.

In New Zealand the sub-urban development culture is also significantly impacted by the most commonly built product being homes of 200m2 or more.  Homes of this size are seen as a desirable asset as much as they are considered suitable.  Unfortunately, they are now falling outside of the ability for many to afford; New Zealand is becoming a country of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Internationally, the solution to many of these issues is increased density closer to local amenities of town and city centres.  In New Zealand there is some of this development, but in many historic cases a mix of leaky buildings, poor housing affordability and inferior built quality have chipped away at people’s trust in urban planning and development.

At Ngārara, we are not reinventing the wheel. We are embracing tried and tested sustainable development practices and letting them thrive here, in our backyard.

Our neighbourhoods are designed to foster community spirit and inviting spaces that encourage outdoor activity, play and social interaction through the implementation of Living Streets. By creating more efficient use of space, slower traffic, and increased socialization, the street is transformed into a ‘living’ environment where people take priority over cars. In response to the sprawling, disconnected communities of past development, our mixed-use space – Gateway Village –  reduces distances between home, work, retail and play. By placing residential, commercial and recreational spaces close to each other, people can walk, cycle or use public transportation to get wherever they need to go, with less dependency on cars.

After all, where and how we live and what we’re surrounded by affects how we feel and experience life. Happy, healthy, connected communities create happy, healthy, and connected families – and vice versa. We encourage you to take this journey with us as we bring our vision to life and create a product you can trust.

A place to belong.

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It matters. And we can help
“There’s no excuse for children to be in that kind of situation in a country of the wealth that is New Zealand, we are a developed country, children should not be raised in those sorts of situations, that is the point of reference for me.” Mr. Gurunathan, Kapiti Mayor

At Ngārara, we believe that the fundamental needs within the social sustainability of housing in New Zealand is based on affordability and housing quality. Within this spirit, we have designed a section of 1 and 2 bedroom attached townhouses, backing onto a multi-purpose green space, creating a vibrant sense of community. By using high quality materials, leading edge techniques and technologies, ensuring efficiency and long service life, our homes decrease long-term maintenance and improve infrastructure security. Architecturally designed, our homes are small, and have been designed as ‘smart spaces’ that incorporate energy efficient solutions such as hot water heat pumps, thermally separated double glazed windows and some serious insulation.

The benefits of sustainable urban developments are substantial. Living in compact neighbourhoods that are cyclist and pedestrian friendly, with access to work, shops and services, promotes increased physical activity and public transport use. By building social networks in neighbourhoods, we are building environments that promote community health and wellbeing. We at Ngārara believe that continued urban sprawl perpetuates environmental degradation; that the solution is not to build more roads but to promote more public transportation; that energy costs and auto dependency are a burden to both our economy and our society; that our aging population are at a disadvantage in poorly serviced suburbs.

In New Zealand, the cost of poor quality, inadequate housing is of epidemic proportion. Over the past twenty years, rents and house prices have increased at a much faster rate than household incomes. Government initiatives to address the severity of the housing crisis have been ineffective. Young families and elderly people have been hardest hit by the soaring house prices.

We are not waiting around for political incentives to push polices that will address New Zealand’s housing shortage. Private industry is willing to help solve the housing issue. It can be done, and we are doing it.

In collaboration with Co-Lab Architects in Christchurch, we have focused our design on honest simplicity. We believe mall homes can afford to be built at a level of quality not affordable in larger homes. That they foster better community and social networks with a smaller carbon footprint, and provide and entry-level opportunity for first-time home-owners as well as enabling elders to remain in their community in suitably designed homes.

A proportion of our homes will be targeted at the affordable end of the market. Our first release of these homes is targeted for February 2018, and will include six 1-bedroom and six 2-bedroom homes.

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Why a liveable street?
A liveable street promotes social cohesion and community connection where people take priority over cars. But how does it work?

The concept of a living street arose over 50 years ago in Europe in response to increase in road-related accidents. The idea was to give pedestrians priority and to create an environment where safety and shared space is promoted through intuitive design. The results of implementing such streets were significant. Injury crashes and vehicle speeds were reduced, traffic volumes were lessened, and residents enjoyed the creation of attractive streets with more space for social interaction and activities such as walking, cycling and playing.

The idea is simple. By using the concept of intuitive design, road users entering a living street know exactly what to do. The street is designed to be narrow, with a distinctive entrance and without a clear division between pedestrians and other road users. With such design, motorists intuitively realise that they have entered a different and shared space.

Although there is no one-way of designing a living street, there are many approaches based on international best practice. Guidelines for implementing living streets are: a clear entrance that defines the area as being a shared space; the incorporation of trees, shrubs, landscape elements and textured road surfaces; the use of traffic calming measures such as narrow lanes and street furniture; the lack of separation between cyclist, motorists and pedestrians. These elements integrate to create a safe, calm environment that encourages social activity.

After three decades of successful implementing of living streets in Europe, the Department of Transport in England thoroughly monitored several pilot projects for living streets in the early 2000’s. Surveys were conducted, and traffic data was collected. All showed that the main objectives – enhanced street environment, improved safety for road users, reduced vehicle speeds and through traffic – were all met.

At Ngārara we’ve incorporated intuitive design into our streetscape by narrowing our streets and adding varying texture to street surfaces, adding elements such as rain gardens, shrubbery and decorative stones, park benches, curb-less residential streets and a defined entrance into the Gateway Village.

By creating more efficient use of space, slower traffic, and increased socialization, the street is transformed into a ‘living’ environment. Other notable benefits include increased and safer mobility for seniors and an increase in natural surveillance by creating open social spaces. At Ngārara, we are passionate about creating living streets that not only reduce driving speeds and increase safety, but improve the quality of life of residents. It works. And it’s beautiful.

Ngārara’s streets are a place to belong.

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