Block NZ host Shelley Ferguson on why the townhouse is the new ‘it’ home

High-density living has been a hot topic, especially in Auckland. We chat to The Block NZ co-host Shelley Ferguson about why townhouses are a great solution

Block NZ host Shelley Ferguson on why the townhouse is the new ‘it’ home

Three’s The Block NZ once again has the nation firmly in its grip, watching (sometimes through gritted teeth) as the teams wheel and deal their way through the gruelling 12-week challenge of designing and styling a contemporary three-storey townhouse.

This season’s site is in the heart of Hobsonville Point, a bustling, master-planned community housing subdivision in West Auckland.

A decade from now, Hobsonville Point will be home to around 11,000 Aucklanders. There’s no denying attitudes and opinions around high-density housing are changing due to the huge demand for new homes, and this year’s contestants have been tasked with the challenge of stamping their unique style on the exact same townhouse.

Co-host Shelley Ferguson says, “This season is special because it really exemplifies the idea of community; the houses are located in the heart of a modern subdivision that is all about connecting with the people closest to you. With similar facades, the pressure is really on for this year’s teams to up their design game in order to make their home unique and stand out from the others.”

Q + A with Shelley Ferguson, co-host of The Block NZ

You’ve been spending a bit of time out at Hobsonville Point lately. What are your thoughts on the development and what would you say are the pros and cons of planned communities?
I’m really impressed with Hobsonville Point. While many of the homes are similar in size and layout because it’s a planned community, there’s a really good variety of design styles from basic yet stylish to those designed by notable architects. The architects have cleverly used natural light, joinery, cladding and rooflines for differentiation and a variation of aesthetic.

The pros are cost: economies of scale on building materials, savings on plans due to multiple dwellings, and small land sizes keep the cost of buying a home down. Also ease of living – there are great amenities, shops and recreation activities so everything you need is a walk away. Usually there’s a governing body, meaning shared spaces are well maintained and there’s a shared interest in security which makes for a lovely, neighbourly feel. I guess the cons of planned communities are if you’re not a fan of the house styles on offer, or if you’d rather be in a central location.

Do you think opinions are shifting when it comes to the style and design of high-density housing?
Definitely. High-density is now appealing to three key groups of people: those who can’t afford a large home, those who want or need to live in the city, and those who choose to embrace high-density for reasons such as sustainability and simplification of life. Because of the demand, the industry has really stepped up to offer beautiful design styles for a range of budgets. However, there just aren’t enough on offer in the areas needed and the cost of quality is still too expensive for many.

Take a tour through the winning townhouse on The Block NZ

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