4 Mar 2018

Call for state housing high-rise to be saved

3:41 pm on 4 March 2018

An architecture commentator is calling for a state housing high-rise in central Auckland to be saved from demolition.

139 Greys Ave in central Auckland.

139 Greys Ave in central Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

Number 139 Greys Ave was built in 1957 to house 87 tenants but Housing New Zealand says its time is up and a "world class" development will take its place.

It plans to build 200 new units, including 80 spots for high-needs tenants.

The current tenants will be relocated to other houses to make way for the development, and may have the option of moving back in once the work is done, HNZ said.

A tenant at 139 Greys Ave said he will be "a little bit sad" to move from his home of 13 years.

A tenant at 139 Greys Ave said he will be "a little bit sad" to move from his home of 13 years. Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

However, former editor of Home magazine Jeremy Hansen said if the building was bulldozed, people would come to regret it.

Mr Hansen said the building was a really important piece of New Zealand's architectural history, designed by government architect of the time, Gordon Wilson.

"They've been terribly neglected over the last few years. They fall into that weird period where it's not quite heritage yet - built 1957, '58, and I don't think they're fully appreciated," he said.

It was the kind of building that with renovation would still be fit for purpose, he said.

"In a few years we'd greatly regret the departure of a building like this, which tells a really important story about the history of state housing in New Zealand," he said.

Housing New Zealand area manager Neil Adams has said the new site would be built around the idea of pastoral care, with the building design taking into account age and ability.

Medical staff and social services would be on hand, with community spaces and in-house shops or facilities.

Some community organisations could put on cooking and art classes, he said.

"When we've had community rooms in Wellington, we've found that our tenants are really talented and have established music groups."

"It just really encourages those connections amongst themselves and others."

A decision will be made on the design in May and construction will begin next year, taking an estimated two and a half years.