90 | BUILDING Vivian Construction Development ‘well ahead of its time’ Karen Phelps Superior thermal design is one of the many features at Aroha Apartments in Mt Eden. The four storey 14-apartment development has achieved a Homestar 10 rating. Aroha Apartments in Mt Eden may be setting the benchmark for New Zealand’s newly emerging build to rent market. The four storey 14-apartment development has achieved a Homestar 10 rating and has sustainability at its heart. Built by Vivian Construction, one of its company directors Jeff Vivian says working for development couple Blair and Jules McKinnon to provide better rental solutions, including long-term tenancies, to the people of Auckland was challenging but rewarding. Vivian Construction was involved in the project from the outset in an early contractor involvement role with the client and architect Jasmax advising on buildability and helping to ensure the project stayed within budget. As one of first projects to be completed under the Auckland Unitary Plan, this provided some hurdles to be overcome. Located in Mt Eden in the middle of residential street, a home on the site was demolished and the front of the site had to be excavated down approximately 4.5 metres into rock. Jeff says resource consent conditions meant this work had to be undertaken with a small excavator in order to be sympathetic to neighbours. Acoustic matting was installed around the excavator and boundary to reduce noise and Vivian Construction maintained close communication with neighbours during the entire project to make sure they were informed about what was going on and when. He says the Vivian Construction team took to the sustainability challenge and embraced it. “It was about educating the team about recycling and what should go where and what materials need to be used and how,” explains Jeff. “Jasmax did a great of ensuring sustainability was at the heart of the design and the McKinnons really championed it.” Over 90% of waste from site was recycled including using some of these materials in the kitchen cabinetry. All new materials used carefully selected for low environmental impact. Insulation was encapsulated on the external rather than internal walls of the building. “So rather than insulation in the walls between timber where the joints can cause condensation entry points, when you build a wall and insulate outside the wall and put the cladding over that you get a continual line of insulation and no gaps. “The result is superior thermal design, in fact no heat pumps are needed in the building as it performs well in summer and winter naturally,” explains Jeff. He says that the design philosophy also centred around community with a communal laundry and rooftop terrace including coffee machine and bar up for residents to gather. “It’s a project that’s well ahead of its time in a lot of ways and Aroha Apartments really demonstrates that with a great client and a good team it’s possible to do something different and very special.” Vivian Construction is due to start work on another similar 30-apartment project for the McKinnons in Mt Albert in 2023. Specialising in commercial construction Auckland based Vivian Construction is operated by three brothers who work closely together to deliver real results for customers. Each brings specialist expertise to the company. Jeff, who sits on the Auckland board of the New Zealand Institute of Building, is an ex carpenter with over 20 years industry experiencing in construction management and project management including working for some of New Zealand’s top construction companies. Brother Matt is a quantity surveyor and other brother Tom is a land surveyor by trade with experiencing working on large scale projects in Australia. “We always had a desire to do our own thing and do business our way,” explains Jeff on the decision to start Vivian Construction in 2017. “We see ourselves as a boutique high end construction company, operating on family values – honesty, integrity and a real pride in what we do.” It has extensive expertise in building sustainable projects and built what Jeff says was New Zealand’s first building to accomplish this certification and one of only 15 certified Living Buildings in the world at that time garnering it several New Zealand Institute of Building awards. The community hub project called TeTii for the Tūhoe in Tāneatua included offices, café and general store. The project achieved the Living Building Challenge certification, which comprises seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. Vivian Construction is now working on nearby Tāneatua Police Station, which Jeff says will be New Zealand’s most sustainable police station. Other current projects include building six villas at the Te Arai Links Golf Club in Mangawhai, 29 townhouses for Ngāti Whatua in Takapuna and 21 units in Mt Eden for Urbizen.