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The Kea, The Pukeko and The Greenhouse

There are several reasons why The Greenhouse is a feather in the Ockham cap. Mark Todd on the avian inspiration behind the company’s exquisite flagship building.

In his quest to find the perfect iridescent, emerald brick that would reflect a distinctly Aotearoa aesthetic, Ockham captain Mark Todd references two irrepressible native birds.

“We put together a design brief that was inspired by the soft greens of the Waitakere ranges, the sparkling waters of the Waitematā, and the black sands of our wild West Coast beaches,” Mark says.

“But there were two other important influences – the kea and the pukeko. The kea is a subtle sort of green that matches the subdued tones of New Zealand bush. But when it lifts its wings, its undercarriage is everything from yellow, to red, to rich burnt orange. It’s a surprising flash of brightness and it’s beautiful.

“Then with the pukeko, its feathers look black superficially, but actually have a deep midnight blue sheen – there’s real depth and texture. We had these birds on our reference sheet right from the beginning as we were working out our colour palette. That’s why it ended up being deep and rich. We’re using dark natural timbers and beautiful, glossy materials throughout the building. It’s also why I really wanted that iridescence in the bricks.”

The Greenhouse - our flagship project

The Greenhouse - our flagship project

Mark and Ockham’s design team were also inspired by the intricate pattern of the birds’ feathers. “We’ve used a feather motif in the windows of the ground floor and the top floor of The Greenhouse. People naturally assume it’s a reference to a fern, but it’s actually a feather,” Mark continues.

“Virtually everything has been done in architecture before, but we haven’t found windows with that feathering pattern so it’s relatively original. It also speaks to what New Zealand is. It’s a feather, but it can be read as a fern, which is such a symbolic thing in our culture. It represents growth and verdancy. We’re a comparatively new nation so it fits in with what might be considered an Aotearoa aesthetic.”

Beyond a quest for originality, a yearning for a certain permanence. Or at least, timelessness. It’s one of the reasons The Greenhouse does things a little differently with the colour choices.

“Maybe Ockham buildings are a bit quirky, but I have a sense that, 30 years from now, you’ll be able to look at most of the buildings delivered in Auckland over the past two decades and say: ‘That’s a 2000s building, that’s a 2010s building.’ Just like it’s so clear when you see seventies wallpaper or a 1950s brutalist building. It’s our hope that The Greenhouse is not going to be lumped in with standard contemporary architecture.

“We really want it to be a stunning landmark building. That’s why we’ve lavished so much care and attention on every aspect of it – from the bricks to the lobby, to the light and privacy of every single apartment. As well as being beautiful, The Greenhouse will also be an extraordinary place to live. It really is a privilege to bring this new community to Auckland’s most irresistible neighbourhood.

The Greenhouse is a once-in-a-lifetime project for Ockham Residential. We’d love to tell you more about it – please contact Joss on 021 245 5155 or Or if you want the ultimate Greenhouse evangelistic experience, drop Mark a line:

First published in the mighty and perspicacious Ponsonby News, March 2022.