HomeGround – Built to uplift Auckland’s most vulnerable

In 2022, the Auckland City Mission – Te Tāpui Atawhai turned what was once a dream into reality. This dream was HomeGround, an 11-storey building featuring 80 apartments and wraparound health and social services. With HomeGround, the mission can support thousands of people to access housing, food, and healthcare in one building. HomeGround goes beyond necessities as the building is meticulously planned to provide occupants with a sense of dignity, a community and positive environment, safety, and mental and physical wellbeing. International research has shown that integrated social housing programmes of this nature equate to approximately $13,000 in public savings per person per annum. AECOM is proud and honoured to have helped the mission deliver this critical infrastructure.

Delivering accessible health and wellbeing for all

HomeGround was designed based on two principles: trauma-informed and Te Aranga (Māori design) principles. Trauma-informed principles encourage the designs to maximise natural light, space and incorporate earthy tones, while Te Aranga principles honour Te Ao Māori – a process guided by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Making health affordable and accessible is at the heart of HomeGround. The state-of-the-art Calder Health Centre can care for thousands of people yearly and has a range of health-related services, including low-cost health and onsite social workers. A great success in delivering HomeGround is the managed withdrawal services housed on levels two and three. The social withdrawal service on level three, run 24/7 by the Mission, caters towards people needing care in recovery from alcohol and other drug use but not hospital-grade intervention. Te Whatu Ora runs level two and has 24/7 support from health and medical professionals to help people withdraw safely.

Maintaining occupant privacy and safety was at the fore of design decisions. The spaces have been designed and equipped with increased safety and anti-ligature features to support managed withdrawal services. In the event of an emergency, a lift connecting the managed withdrawal floors to the basement enables discrete transportation to the hospital via ambulance.

Built by, for, and with Aucklanders

The iconic HomeGround is truly an Auckland landmark built by, for, and with Aucklanders. The programme of work was leveraged to achieve equitable outcomes for vulnerable populations. This was achieved with an accreditation and membership in Mates in Construction – a suicide prevention programme – and provisions for learning and development, youth worker programmes, and resident apprenticeships.

The HomeGround facility recognises the importance of social connections and fosters an inclusive environment where individuals feel a sense of belonging. Each day, HomeGround serves up to 300 hot and nutritious meals through its community dining room Haeata.

HomeGround also has several communal spaces, vital for engaging the community and tenants in life-enriching activities and workshops to relearn or learn new skills. Encouraging participation in these activities, fosters a sense of belonging, develops valuable skills, rebuilds confidence, and establishes strong networks for life.

New Zealand’s first large-scale high-rise cross-laminated timber (CLT) building

Not only a significant social milestone, HomeGround is also a landmark facility being New Zealand’s first large-scale high-rise CLT building. CLT represents an innovative approach that reduces costs, labour time, improves earthquake performance, and minimises carbon emissions. AECOM, as the structural engineer, helped design a concrete podium structure on the basement ground and first floor to support the CLT main structure, while an exterior cross-brace provides lateral stability.

Other sustainable features include edible rooftop gardens, sort-at-source waste management, harvesting of rainwater, use of prefinished and prefabricated products to reduce waste and construction time, and maximising energy efficiency through the use of passive and natural cooling, CLT panels, terracotta tiles, external insulation, and high-performance window suites and glazing.