Of Brick and Soul: The Genesis of The Greenhouse

Ockham Residential’s Mark Todd speaks to HOME’s editor Clare Chapman about Ponsonby’s latest residential development — a glistening building due for completion next year.

At a factory 20km inland from Venice, after searching for almost four years, Mark Todd found the perfect glazed brick. It changes colour all day, every day. Under the morning sun, it’s a gleaming emerald green, like a summer walk to Karekare Falls. As the day unfolds, it’s forest-green, then dark olive, then almost black — the colour of a midwinter slog through Great Barrier bush. There are glimmers of Whatipū greys, and fleeting moments of Waiheke navy and indigo. 

Soon, 150,000 of these iridescent, green-glazed bricks will adorn a new landmark building in Tāmaki Makaurau, known, appropriately, as The Greenhouse.

For Mark, the man behind its development, the quest to deliver this 101-apartment building just off Ponsonby Road was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,  the chance to bring the people of Auckland Ockham Residential’s best work yet — a building with soul and of unwavering beauty underpinned by considered design.

It’s a place that’s meant to “belong, but not in an arbitrary way … it’s our ambition to build one of Auckland’s most beloved buildings,” Mark explains. “We strive to make thoughtful, distinctively residential buildings that are as beautiful as the landscapes they sit within.”

"For Mark Todd... this was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the chance to bring the people of Auckland Ockham Residential’s best work yet – a building with soul and of unwavering beauty underpinned by considered design.”

Drawing inspiration from the landscapes of Aotearoa

Inside, the material palette is as well considered as the exterior; it references nature and seeks to bring it indoors. Stone kitchen benchtops meet timber floors and cabinetry, while dark-green bathroom tiling and fittings are classic and peaceful — showers at The Greenhouse evoke the mood of waterfalls deep in the bush. The colours and textures throughout draw inspiration from the landscapes of Aotearoa — the weight of stone, the tactility of wood, the enduring strength of brick.

“I think buildings like this are important for Auckland’s identity,” Mark continues. “People are proud of landmark buildings in their cities. I love it when you go to a new city and it’s got a great skyline — that’s one of the reasons people travel. They go to see buildings and the collective effects they have on atmosphere, energy and identity.

It comes back to character. “The Greenhouse will convey identity to its neighbourhood and city; inside it will become known as an excellent place to live, covetable for its amenity, location and character. It's a building that will age gracefully.”

The development of The Greenhouse has been somewhat of a personal, and slightly obsessive, journey for Mark to ensure every detail was perfect, most notably, of course, that signature brick. Visitors to Ockham Residential’s HQ rarely escape without Mark, brick-sample board under his arm, press-ganging them outside to see how the green glaze changes colour in the light.

There’s a beauty in the brick, and in the endearing enthusiasm of the man who found it. 

This article was first published in HOME magazine.

The Greenhouse - our flagship project

The Greenhouse - our flagship project