PHOTO: Dr. Anthony Hoete, a celebrated architect and researcher of Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Rānana descent. ARCHITECTURE NOW
New Zealand has long grappled with a housing crisis, with successive governments attempting to address it but largely falling short. However, there is new hope as an award-winning architect with expertise gained from London’s housing challenges is now applying his knowledge in New Zealand, emphasizing a novel rental model as the key to improving housing affordability and quality.
Dr. Anthony Hoete, a celebrated architect and researcher of Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Rānana descent, spent three decades practicing his craft overseas before returning home to accept a professorship at the University of Auckland. Reflecting on his time in London, Hoete recalled his last project there, one of great importance and risk.
“I could have faced bankruptcy,” he confessed.
In London, Hoete was disheartened by the disparity between his architectural designs and the final products delivered by developers. The housing crisis in the city often resulted in subpar housing, as some developers prioritized cost-cutting to expedite profits.
With a Kiwi DIY spirit, Hoete decided to establish his own development company to take charge of the entire process. He invested his savings into a plot of land in South London and successfully oversaw the design, development, and construction of a distinctive set of townhouses known as Costa Street.
“As the developer, I had control over how we allocated resources, and we prioritized essentials like high-quality windows, insulation, and fixtures,” he explained.
His groundbreaking work extended beyond typical construction practices. Using interlocking supports and tensioned rope lashing, Hoete’s team drew from Māori mīmiro techniques dating back to the 1700s. This traditional method was put to the test against modern earthquake requirements, demonstrating its ability to withstand powerful vertical and lateral forces.
“The potential for future construction and technology is staggering,” Hoete exclaimed.
He envisioned applications ranging from supermarkets to retail spaces, showcasing how ancient knowledge can find innovative expressions in the modern world.
“I’m not seeking to preserve the past,” he emphasized. “My mission is to transform it.”