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Creative Arch on why high-density living is the way of the future

How much space do we really need to live well? In this Behind the Design video, we sit down with award-winning architectural designer Mark McLeay to discuss home design trends, sustainability and why he thinks New Zealanders are evolving the way they live

In our video series Behind the Design we chat with members of our Trends Design Council to get ideas, advice and find out what design means to them.

Following on from our conversation with Paul Clarke of Studio2 Architects, we sat down with Architectural Designer Mark McLeay of Creative Arch.

Mark is an award winning, multi-disciplined architectural designer whose range of work includes residential homes, renovations, sub-division developments and commercial buildings.

Mark is particularly well renowned for his renovation projects, winning the TIDA Renovation of the Year award for a large, boomerang-shaped house in 2019 and a classic villa transformation in 2018.

He says that while villa restorations are some of his favourite types projects to work on, multi-unit developments have become an important staple in his office.

“In our office, we’re favouring towards apartments, medium density type construction and social housing. It actually does need to head that way of becoming more intensified,” Mark explains.


Mark believes this move towards apartment and townhouse living is an evolving and necessary process. Intensified developments help to minimise the effects of urban sprawl, and ensure valuable and fertile farmland is protected. And most importantly, for many Auckland buyers, it offers people a more affordable path to homeownership.

With the cost of housing continuing to rise and parents looking to help their children get a foot on the property ladder, another trend Mark is seeing is a greater demand for generational homes.

“It’s something I’m going through myself with two teenagers with how they can afford to get into their own homes,” he explains.

“It’s about creating a village atmosphere within the home for different generations. You know, looking at studios above garages and looking at separate wings that link to the main body of the home.”

With our changing lifestyles and the competitive property market showing no signs of letting up, Mark predicts a lot more happening around the multi-unit space. 

He sees this signifying a shift in the way New Zealanders live and what they look for in a home. “I think that’s what I mean as a nation we are evolving,” says Mark. “We’re having to review – well actually do we need that space? How much use is it actually getting? Can we get away with smaller?”

Watch the video above to find out Mark's villa renovation tips, how his practice incorporates sustainability into their designs and what he finds most rewarding in his work.  

See more from our Trends Design Council here

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Creative Arch

06 Sep, 2020

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