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News & opinion

24 MAY 2018

Promoting innovation through property

As part of our 150th anniversary campaign, Alain McKinney MRICS introduces the innovative new neighbourhood appearing on Auckland’s waterfront.

The Wynyard Quarter is a reclaimed piece of land on the Waitematā Harbour at the western edge of the Auckland waterfront in New Zealand. It’s one of New Zealand’s largest urban regeneration projects – when fully developed in 2030, it will be home to around 3000 residents and 25,000 workers.

In 2014, Precinct Properties entered a development agreement with Panuku Development Auckland, the Auckland Council-controlled organisation that is leading the regeneration of Wynyard Quarter. It’s looking to develop 48,000m² of commercial space at the center of Wynyard Quarter to form the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct.

We recently completed Stage One which comprised of the Mason Bros. building and 12 Madden Street and are commencing stage two in May 2018. The underlying philosophy is to create a sustainable urban environment that will supercharge innovation and economic development, not only for Auckland, but for the whole of New Zealand.

Innovation is at the centre of the project and what makes this development that make it stand out.

The built environment encouraging innovation

The precinct is designed to make it easier and more efficient for businesses to innovate and respond to change. It will be home to a range of businesses, from start-ups to large corporates.

As a team, we were inspired by Communitech in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada – one of the world’s most established innovation hubs. In 2016 alone, this hub saw 382 start-ups created, its tech companies raising $255m in private capital, and 2,782 new employees hired. The inspiration derived from other hubs doing this well has been invaluable to us.

Creating an innovation hub requires facilitating the cross-pollination of ideas, relationship building within the community, and providing the flexibility of space that innovative businesses require. These fundamentals allow a hub to grow and thrive.

We want to be innovative in how we deliver the project too. One such approach is our use of Virtual Reality so that people can experience the interior and surrounding spaces of one of our new build properties, 10 Madden, in a fully-immersive way.

Sustainability at the forefront

Being innovative also means being flexible for the current and future challenges of the community. One such area is sustainability.

The Wynyard Central Sustainability Standards enshrine 5 Star Green Star quality and NABERS ratings. But, we also decided to go even further, integrating a number of bespoke targets and aspirations aiming to create a new sustainability benchmark in New Zealand.

Technology is at the forefront of delivering on these ambitions. Corporates and tenants within the Quarter are encouraged to share real-time energy and water data to a web platform so that anyone can view how well the buildings are performing.

Other targets include construction waste recycling, sustainability learning resources, the integration of charging points for electric bicycles, and mandated rainwater harvesting.

Mason Bros. development

The first completed building within the Wynyard Quarter redevelopment, Mason Bros., demonstrates how these ambitions are delivered.

This redevelopment involved the adaptive reuse of an existing building, with extensive reuse and recycling of demolished materials during the works.

It has been designed with electrical and communications services that can incorporate future growth capacity. And the facilities are highly flexible to the changing needs of the space. For instance, the intelligent lighting control system enables easy re-zoning in response to different tenancy fitouts.

As we continue to develop the precinct, we’re focused on maintaining sustainability and innovation targets to create a truly forward thinking and future-proofed redevelopment.

Alain McKinney MRICS is Senior Development Manager for Precinct Properties