Apartment Living New Zealand: Inspiring apartment designs for contemporary living by Catherine Foster

Published by Penguin. RRP $50.Out now

Housing pressures and a more urban lifestyle in the main centres are leading New Zealanders to embrace apartment living in a way they never have before. DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids), empty nesters and many priced out of the freestanding housing market are turning to apartment living to secure a foothold on the property ladder, or free up cash for other lifestyle ventures.

"More than 150 apartments are now sold every month in central Auckland, with the post GFC slump in the market fast receding. And the sector is finally shaking free of the shackles that have caused potential buyers to hesitate. Issues surrounding poor management of apartment buildings, leaky building worries, the cost of earthquake strengthening and post-earthquake insurance hikes have largely been addressed," the NZ Herald reported in March 2014.

"As Auckland’s population increases, so the range of apartments spreads, and already there are large apartment projects in suburban areas such as Manukau, Ellerslie, New Lynn, Mt Wellington and parts of the North Shore."

And it is not just Auckland experiencing an apartment boom. Wellington, Christchurch and larger regional centres such as Tauranga have all seen a healthy increase in apartment building and sales.

Just as her first book Small House Living tuned into the trend for New Zealanders to build smaller homes, Catherine Foster’s new book, Apartment Living New Zealand, embraces the diversity on offer with this increasingly popular style of living. Beautifully photographed and thought-fully written, Apartment Living New Zealand celebrates an emerging style of housing that delivers convenience, affordability and the stimulation of a more urban way of life. A long-time champion of good architecture, Foster is interested in how good design principles can address social needs. Her books are a direct response to the growing unaffordability of housing in New Zealand’s larger cities.

With her belief in consuming the finite resources of planet Earth responsibly, she sees building smaller and smarter homes as an obvious step in the right direction.

Like the houses featured in Small House Living, Foster has put together a representative selection of intriguing apartments which all have an interesting aesthetic and are admirable examples of their type.

As well as high-rise apartments, Foster’s selection features multi-level warehouse conversions, renovations of older character structures, makeovers of ‘sausage’ flats, multi-unit dwellings, purpose-built apartment buildings and office conversions.

Converting and repurposing commercial spaces not originally intended for residential living is not without its challenges. Navigating resource consent can be a complex and frustrating process and Foster also covers this in her book. The general consensus seems to be that even in cases requiring the most laborious paper work, the result was worth the red-tape headache for these happy apartment denizens.

While apartments are an increasingly popular choice for many people, high-density living is radically different to the typical leafy suburban lifestyle. Foster wraps up her book with an informative chapter that directly deals with this. She runs through the various factors that she suggests people consider before making the move; covering considerations both emotional and practical.