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Marshall Court Apartments for WCC City Housing


The use of colour enhances the design of the new building, and conveys an enhanced sense of residential scale and visual rhythm which in turn facilitates its relationship to the context of its surroundings.

The WCC brief required the existing outdated Marshall Court complex to be demolished and replaced with a new building designed within the same bulk and location of the existing building envelope and comprising 27 one bedroom apartments to house senior citizens (65+ years). The project also needed to comply with the wider WCC brief to improve its social housing stock within approved budgets and timelines as outlined in its agreement with the Crown.


The four storey T-shaped block is located on the corner of Tahi Street and Park Road in Miramar and opens at the rear to north facing landscaped gardens. The site is conveniently located for the elderly with a well serviced bus route nearby and suburban shops and services are within walking distance. Due to its close proximity to the Miramar Town Centre the proposed building acts as a visual ‘bookend’ to it, mediating between the commercial zone and the surrounding residential area of Miramar.

While the building generally follows the bulk and location of the existing building, the insertion of a lift, access stairs and main entrance between the Park and Tahi Street wings have provided design opportunities to reinforce the separation of the two wings reducing the building bulk and improving wayfinding legibility. Cladding materials, colour and façade modulation further assists in reducing the scale and integrating it into its surroundings.

Outside -detail

From the lift and central stair the circulation radiates efficiently in three directions to outdoor terraces at the ends of the balconies. Circulation routes and stairs are arranged to maximise visibility of the common garden area and main entrance to maximise tenant amenity. North facing alcoves to each unit mediate between the public breezeways and provide opportunities for residents to claim this space and personalise it.

Units are 45 square metres in size and are organised into living, sleeping, washing and service zones. Bedrooms are orientated to the street with kitchen, service and entrance spaces orientated to north facing breezeways. This dual orientation provides a choice of private setting and aspect for each resident and opportunity for social interaction or not. Sliding screens between the bedroom and living area allow for flexible spatial organisation.

Exterior - detail

The use of colour enhances the design of the new building, and conveys an enhanced sense of residential scale and visual rhythm which in turn facilitates its relationship to the context of its surroundings.

The Tahi Street corner elevation is made up of a feature wall adjacent to the entrance comprising three upper levels of Exotec façade panel sheeting in stepped vertical strips with the inclusion of windows on each level. Two tones of yellow are used on the outer surfaces with green on the recesses. The colourful feature wall acts as a prominent and strong visual urban element that can be seen from the nearby Miramar town centre.

The three feature colours are used on the upper three levels of the entrance façade in a modulated wall to emphasise the building entrance and present a positive image to the street. Strong coloured feature wall frames provide intermediate detail on the street facades.

Colour is used to visually reduce the mass of the building. A coloured ground floor provides a plinth – a three storey building on a base verses a four storey building. The window arrangement together with the variation of exterior cladding and use of colour creates a distinctive visual pattern which effectively articulates the building facades to create a sense of human scale and façade relief.

Yellow panels finished in Resene Paris Daisy and Resene Golden Fizz provide vertical bands of colour along the breezeway for visual richness and a perception of diminished length.

White perforated screens add an additional layer to the breezeway edges providing wind and privacy screening to tenant alcoves.

Public street facades (outer skin) are composed of ‘hit and miss’ metal panelling on upper levels in subdued tones of grey with deep window recesses providing urban paternation, visual richness and façade relief.

Private facades/breezeways (inner skin) are composed of full height Exotec panels painted in vibrant and lively colours. Green is used on the recessed walls to alcoves to reinforce the sense of depth to the tenant’s private realm. White soffits and mid tone grey floors complete the breezeway composition creating a north facing light filled socially interactive zone overlooking a large communal garden.

The exterior service core and doors are finished in Resene Lustacryl CoolColour tinted to Resene Merlin with structural steel and PVC downpipes in Resene Summit Roof Aluminium with Resene Happy Hour in Resene Lumbersider a fresh feature on fibre cement cladding. Breezeways and stairs are finished in Resene Gunsmoke using a tough Resene Uracryl finish.

On the interior, the palette is neutral with the living area walls finished in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen, bathrooms in Resene Sea Fog using Resene Lustacryl Kitchen & Bathroom, doors in Resene Quarter Oilskin using Resene Lustacryl and Resene Quarter Akaroa with the ceilings in Resene Half Black White.

Colour selections were reviewed with CPTED – Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – criteria considered.

Architectural specifier: Designgroup Stapleton Elliott
Building contractor: Maycroft Construction
Client: WCC City Housing
Painting contractor: Chris Geany Painters
Photographer: Paul McCreadie
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2015

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