The inner beauty of the Greenhouse

Ockham Residential’s Lead Architect Tania Wong has spent thousands of hours poring over every detail of The Greenhouse, ensuring the building will look just as glorious on the inside. 

It’s named for the 150,000 iridescent, green-glazed bricks that will adorn its walls.

Great care — and a level of mild obsessiveness — was taken to find the perfect brick for The Greenhouse, Ockham’s flagship project in Ponsonby. In all, the quest would take four years and take a circuitous path through New Zealand, Australia and Europe. But when Tania saw the breathtaking Sant’Anselmo bricks from Venuto, Italy, she knew the long search was over.

“Sant’Anselmo’s kilns have been firing bricks for five generations and their bricks really stood out,” she says. “They’re beautiful — luminous, elegant and an incredible deep, rich colour. They certainly will make The Greenhouse a landmark building.”

Bringing Tamaki Makaurau inside

Those iconic bricks were not the only aspect of the building that Tania lavished her attention on. “When we were thinking about The Greenhouse, we wanted to think about an Aotearoa aesthetic,” she says. “All the materials we’ve chosen are deeply inspired by nature — the birds, the bush and the ocean. We wanted to bring that feeling inside the building too.”

Tania and her team have stuck to colours that reflect Tamaki Makaurau — the black sand of West Coast beaches and the deep greens of the Wait.kere ranges, with glimmers of the sparkling sea that surrounds the city.

“As soon as you step into the lobby, your feet land on dark slate floor tiles cut and laid in a chevron pattern. The colour is reminiscent of Karekare sand and the chevron pattern mirrors the feather pattern I’ve used on the glazing on the ground floor of the commercial spaces and at the top of the building. Ahead of you will be the lift doors. We’ve opted for a brass finish that complements the green-glazed bricks,” Tania explains.

Slate and light

The Karekare vibe continues into the apartments themselves. “We’ve tied in the brass and slate from the lobby into the kitchens and bathrooms of the apartments,” Tania continues. “The bathroom floors and walls have slate tiles, green tiles in the showers accompanied with sleek Buddy tapware in aged brass.

“The kitchen benches are all a gleaming dark slate, then there’s the walnut veneer cabinetry, which adds a real richness, and beautiful engineered European oak for the floors; also cut and laid in a chevron pattern. The colours work wonderfully together, but it’s a very simple palette. It’s not overwhelming, so people can still personalise their apartments with their own finishing touches.”

Tania’s almost as proud of the lights in The Greenhouse as she is of the bricks. “We found these beautiful handmade Monmouth eel-green pendant lights, which will hang over the slate island benches in the kitchen. They look incredible. Then there’s an exquisite Tom Dixon brass light, which will take centre stage in the lobby and shine light on the brass mesh in the ceiling.”

It has been hard work, she says, and there have been a few frustrations along the way. But Tania has no regrets about keeping a very close eye on every fixture that’ll beautify the building’s interior.

“I’m so proud of The Greenhouse. We’ve really put our hearts and souls into this building, it’s a true once-in-a-lifetime project. It’s going to be a beautiful place to live.”