Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust - Brougham Street

30 March 2023

Attractive social housing encouraging environmentally sustainable and economic lives is at the heart of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust’s operation.

The 7 Homestar rated Brougham Street development in central Christchurch showcases its aspirations in action.

The dynamic multi-unit community of 90 energy efficient homes and integrated green spaces is enhancing the quality of life for its tenants.

It’s also repositioning social housing at the forefront of green residential design.


Owner: Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (ŌCHT). ŌCHT oversees the Christchurch City Council’s social housing portfolio

Site: 1.7 hectares

Location: 356 - 402 Brougham Street, Sydenham

Details: 90 homes including 70 one-bedroom units, 14 two- bedroom units, 3 three-bedroom units, and 3 four-bedroom units. Developed as three integrated communities - Korimako Lane, Karoro Lane and Hoiho Lane; high-quality green spaces, shared vegetable gardens, cycle and car share services

Occupancy: 115 residents

Project certification: 7 Homestar rating (November 2022)

Project awards: Christchurch Civic Trust Award (2021); Canterbury Architecture Award Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects Award (2022); Community and Affordable Housing Property Excellence Award at the Property Council New Zealand Property Industry Awards (2022)

Project Snapshot

Main contractor: Southbase Construction

Architect: South by Southeast Architects

Homestar professional: Chris Mills, Powell Fenwick Consultants

Project timeline: June 2019 - December 2020; occupancy April 2021

When ŌCHT set about replacing a cluster of social housing on the site of a former complex demolished after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake - sustainability, low energy, durability and connectivity were the big drivers.

“Progressive, holistic thinking spearheads our approach to providing safe, warm and attractive community housing and our goals clearly align with Homestar,” says ŌCHT general manager property and development, Ed Leeson.

While the Brougham Street development is ŌCHT’s first 7 Homestar rating it already had three 6 star rated properties and has recently achieved three additional 7 star ratings for other new developments across the city.



Ed says ŌCHT seeks to bring innovation in design, materials and solutions to the social housing space.

“A Homestar rating demonstrates that we have made the grade. It verifies we have done things the right way and we have done so much better than normal building specifications.”

Improving and advancing social housing fits with the principle of manaakitanga guiding ŌCHT’s work.

Architect for the Brougham Street project, Ken Powrie, director of South by Southeast Architects, says environmental and social sustainability were at the heart of the project brief.

“We needed to put the tenant at the centre and embrace environmentally responsible solutions that would enhance the lives of residents and encourage long-term tenancies.”

The 90 units at the Brougham Street development incorporate passive design principles - building layout, window design, insulation, thermal mass, shading and ventilation - to achieve comfortable temperatures, good indoor air quality and maximise passive solar gains to reduce energy consumption in winter.

Ken says key design decisions targeting a 7 Homestar rating included:

  • building highly resource efficient layouts
  • a high performance thermal envelope incorporating thermally broken window framing
  • efficient space heating using high wall heat pump units
  • healthy and sustainable materials selection
  • balancing urban density with green spaces and utility areas

He says the end result is a product of ŌCHT’s vision and the project team’s commitment to meet it.

“Effective team work, communication and early-stage incorporation of sustainable items into designs provided an incredibly robust Homestar submissions package targeting 7 Homestar ratings for all 90 units,” he says.



Ken says the architectural form of the Brougham Street development with its brick cladding (chosen for its sustainable, thermal, acoustic and aesthetic qualities) and saw-tooth roofs “responds to its relationship with the neighbouring residential character and industrial sites.”

Ed Leeson says look of the development in its suburban streetscape has had a substantial impact.

“We wanted the Brougham Street project to demonstrate what community housing can be and not what it used to be. We want to shake off any stigma about social housing. These homes are highly attractive, sustainable, top-end dwellings which merge seamlessly in their suburb. We’ve had many enquiries from ordinary members of the public wanting to live here.”

The positivity surrounding the Brougham Street development does not surprise Homestar assessor, senior mechanical and ESD engineer at Powell Fenwick, Chris Mills.

“It is a fantastic example of the attractive and sustainable social housing ŌCHT is delivering to Christchurch,” he says.

“It is great that healthy homes like these are available to people who are most in need and I am grateful to have been part of it.”

“I believe the holistic Homestar certification provides significant improvement to the daily lives of the occupants across many aspects of health, comfort, safety, liveability and operating costs. I hope that aspects of the ŌCHT model can be adapted for other social and affordable housing development projects in Aotearoa.”

Chris says the fact that a social housing development with strict capital cost limits and a short construction programme was able to achieve a 7 Homestar certification is “a testament to the work of the entire team realising a remarkable client goal.”

Main contractor Southbase Construction says it is proud to have presented ŌCHT with warm, dry, efficient, easy care housing for its tenants - homes and a community they can call home.

Southbase Construction compliance manager, Sophie Bruce says implementing the Homestar accreditation at the inception of the project meant the project team could collaborate closely and use a raft of techniques for improving sustainability throughout the process.

Those measures included the use of lightweight prefabricated timber frames and trusses manufactured off site.

“This saved a large amount of timber wastage and created great efficiencies across materials, time and costs.”

ŌCHT says the pre-built timber structures were instrumental in the project being completed ahead of schedule and on budget despite the Covid lockdowns.

Sophie says the Homestar requirements were ‘highly discussed’ at team meetings and toolbox talks so all employees on site were fully briefed.


On-site waste management included recycling bins accessible for steel, untreated timber, green waste, hardfill, aluminium, cardboard and polystyrene.

“By focusing on quality materials and innovative sustainable design ŌCHT has provided tenants with a beautiful home and quality lifestyle.”

“And the residents’ appreciation at being offered a brand-new home has made the hard work behind the scenes so worthwhile,” says Sophie.

That appreciation of living at the Brougham Street development is captured in feedback from residents.

Tenant One

“I’ve lived in rental places that cost lots to heat and still made me and the kids feel sick and made me worried about how much I had to spend keeping the rooms warm. I never realised how much it affected us until we moved here. This is just amazing.”

Tenant Two

“I don’t know much about what’s in the walls and in the ceiling but this is the warmest, quietest, most comfortable unit I’ve ever had. I’m not spending heaps on power either. I use the heat pump to keep the place warm in winter and cool in summer and my power bill is actually lower than my old place.”

Tenant Three

“I definitely feel like my unit is better for me than other houses I’ve lived in. It’s warm and dry and there’s no condensation and it’s not stuffy and the air just seems so clean. I’m allergic to dust and pollen and I haven’t had anywhere near as many problems here as I used to. I’m not as worried about my electricity bills as I used to be because I’m not using heaters or anything like that anymore.”

Meanwhile architect Ken Powrie says the sense of community created at the Brougham Street development and its positive impact on the day to day lives of families living there has been a highlight for his practice.

“One of the things that’s meant the most came from a Red Cross member who places refugees into social housing.”

“They said the project has been a game changer for them with refugee placement and integration into the community. That nationally this project stands out with its community feel and the quality of the homes and landscape offered. And that it had made a material difference to the people they have placed there.