Aalto Underway: 'Boutique development' coming to Morningside

Aalto, our 18th development, and the latest iteration of what Ockham's Mark Todd has dubbed ‘Ockham 2.0’, was unveiled on Thursday 29 April. Some 300 people attended the Aalto Preview Evening at the Glasshouse in Morningside, a mere hop-skip away from Aalto’s home at 2 Finch Street. Or as architectural designer Hannah Chiaroni-Clarke put it: "It's just up the road, at the top of the ridge, and what that means is the views will be epic."

Ockham helmsman Mark Todd was equally effusive about the magnificence of Morningside, noting the residents of Aalto’s 39 apartments will find themselves "400 metres from the train station... 10 minutes by bike to town." But he added there was no pressing reason to venture further afield: "There’s bloody heaps of good places to eat and socialise around here." 

Proximity to Auckland’s city life and transport hubs is just one element of Aalto’s charm. As the proudly, patriotically Morningside craft beer flowed, Chiaroni-Clarke and Todd spoke of how Aalto has been formed in keeping with 'Ockham 2.0', the company’s renewed drive to use new and more sustainable technologies to construct buildings that integrate with their communities, both outside and within.  

Nowhere is this truer than Aalto, where the communal facilities are prized centrepieces. "Ockham is re-committing to thinking about how people want to live in apartments," Chiaroni-Clarke averred, "and Aalto is an example of the power and the benefit of collective living." Rich in shared amenities, Aalto will boast a separate work-from-home office, bookable guest bedroom, a 150 square-metre residents' ranch for gossip and quiet contemplation, and a deck with raised vegetable beds and herb gardens, all on the top floor, where the view can be enjoyed by everyone. 

An eye for detail

Such collectivism is entirely befitting for a building named after Alvar Aalto, the Finnish architect and designer who sought to bring harmony and a sense of human connection to every project that graced his drawing board. Designing everything from city master plans and grand churches to intricate glass vases and bent wood stools, Aalto the Maestro had a love of beauty in daily life, an eye for detail within the big picture, and – like Ockham – a penchant for brick.  

“Aalto loved brick, Ockham loves brick, so perfect match,” Chiaroni-Clarke joked. But she was eager to show how Aalto’s purply-red brick façade referenced Muuratsalo Experimental House, a summer residence the Finn built for his family, where he tested all the different ways and patterns in which brick could be laid.  

“We’ve got these inlays made with brick creating a modernist contemporary pattern on the façade," Chiaroni-Clarke continued. "Then the modernist themes carry on inside. So, if you buy an apartment here you can choose between two interior colour schemes. There’s a simple white cream, with some nice warm timber highlights, then a slightly more daring scheme with a retro Aalto-esque green kitchen and features on in the bathroom." 

Planned from the most meticulous detail to the widest scale, Aalto’s considered design blueprints a vision for residential living that Todd is proud to offer Tāmaki Makaurau. "I never thought we’d wind up being sought out on planning issues, design responses, what urban living should be or could be," he said. "But I am proud of what we’ve achieved and where we’re heading."

“Ockham is re-committing to thinking about how people want to live in apartments and Aalto is an example of the power and the benefit of collective living.”

Architectural designer, Hannah Chiaroni-Clarke