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Mary Potter Apartments with Classic Gable Roofs and a Curated Landscape Enthrall


Mary Potter Apartments - It is not very often that one comes across residential units that are as gorgeous, distinctive, modern and yet seemingly timeless as the Mary Potter Apartments in Christchurch. With a series of gable roofs that appear to create one continuous, flowing form when viewed from the street, these 12 elegant homes were added to an existing suburban development that was first started way back in 1993. Subsequent additions of 13 more residential units in 2006 saw the expansion of the community and the latest dozen give the neighborhood a reinvigorated appeal.

Designed by Warren and Mahoney, it is the landscape around the homes that becomes the defining aspect of the new development along with the striking form of the gable roof. A series of curated courtyards, gardens and small, private decks are intertwined cleverly to create a harmonious, tranquil environment where people can enjoy each other’s company while still clearly understanding the boundaries of personal space. On the inside it is a sweeping living area filled with natural light, an ergonomic kitchen, additional hall and two cozy bedrooms that complete these dashing residences.

The new 12 unit extension is seamlessly integrated into the existing suburban environment of the Mary Potter community. Configured to enhance the sense of community, the 12 Unit extension is nestled around a landscaped courtyard with individual units sited to balance independence and privacy.

The Little Company of Mary NZ (LCM) commissioned the development of 12 new residential apartments adjacent to the existing Mary Potter housing courts and community centre. These existing units were designed by Warren and Mahoney in 2007 and used as part of the LCM Sisters ministry to accommodate independent elderly of limited means. With the medical laboratory on the site being damaged in the Christchurch earthquake, LCM recognised there was a lack of residential housing and felt that building residential accommodation would alleviate the post-earthquake housing shortage. These apartments are being used for public rent at market level which provides funding to the LCM ministry.

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Warren and Mahoney were engaged to design the new buildings and Boffa Miskell was subconsulted by WAM to provide landscape architectural services, including landscape concept design, developed design, detailed design and supervision of landscape implementation.

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The LCM was looking for an attractive garden setting to complement both the new development and the existing buildings. The new buildings were arranged around a central courtyard with places to sit and meet with relatives and friends as well as an attractive outlook from the apartments. A strong connection to the existing units and community centre was important.

The Boffa Miskell design team created a modern, colourful and eclectic feel to the landscape which provides detail and interest for the residents. This was been achieved by the use of native plantings, contrasting clipped hedging and the selective use of more traditional plants such as floribunda bush roses, lavender, rhododendron and agapanthus.

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A strong geometric street edge contributes to the character of the development and creates a sense of safety through community surveillance. The building form references the simple gable roofs of the original units, which are adapted to meet the internal planning requirements to have more rooms facing the courtyard or North and a facade which legibly reflects this.

It is medium density housing but the units have been configured so that they are offset from each other to ensure a level of seclusion and privacy. It was a priority for us to encourage interaction between the residents with the design. The centre courtyard model makes it easy for residents to walk to one another’s houses, and as they walk through the grounds to the community centre they’ll bump into their neighbours.

Natural day lighting, a calm interior palette, a comfortable thermal environment drivers in creating light filled spaces with generous glazing and high, sloping ceilings in the living areas.

One of the key guiding design principals was ‘universal design’ with the aim that the structure will in no way exclude any person from occupying the house whether they are young, old, handicapped, or able bodied.

The complex, which was originally designed for the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary and is in its third stage of development. The original 17 units and Convent were designed by Warren and Mahoney in 1993. In 2006, 13 more units were added on an adjacent site and a later a Community Centre, designed by Maurice Mahoney.

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