Omaia Urban Village

Omaia is RCG’s answer to an international competition which asked that we design and build a new place for living in the Central City of Christchurch.

Our challenge was to develop a concept for medium density living - a new urban village that provides a variety of housing options and lifestyle choices based on sustainability, innovation and a strong sense of community.

Omaia is Māori for “place of the brave” we saw this competition as an opportunity to explore some innovative design solutions and contribute something to the re-build of Christchurch.

We realised our design needed to mix home sizes and values together to create a vibrant and balanced community. Our aim became to make new homes in the central city affordable to the average household. We also recognised the poor geographical quality of the site would limit excavation and building mass.

The winning concept will be built adjacent to Latimer Square and The Frame. Recognising the ‘gardened edge’ as critical to the character of Christchurch, we grew this into our design.

This led us to create a design of 50 homes that house 180 people in 7 blocks, around a central communal pocket park, and a site plan that is permeable, open and planted, with green streets and pocket parks, while also creating private courtyard gardens for residents. Our concept enabled small staged, fast construction at a low cost per square metre.

The density of the Urban Village is almost exact to that of terrace housing; yet without its mechanical repetition, or the alienation that apartment living provokes.

With the architecture and urban design style of Omaia, we sought to capture a sense of ‘memory’ and ‘aspiration’ and evoke the lost gothic architecture of Christchurch. Yet with its smart and modern accents, our design also looks to the future.

We brought components that reference the past together and recast them in innovative ways, such as steeply pitched roof forms, vertical board timberwork and grey concrete materials, cloisters, courtyards, gardens and laneways.

Omaia is the New Urban Village that is low-rise, open, gardened and has a mix of households. This is a place for community and living that is quintessentially Christchurch.

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