My Whare

Visionwest is one of five providers who make up Housing First - a housing collective that is working towards ending homelessness in Auckland. Their latest initiative is focussed on young people and offers them a chance to find greater independence as they share a close connection with a family while having their own personal space.

My Whare is an innovative programme, initiated by West Auckland based Visionwest Community Trust in response to the crisis of youth homelessness; it is intended to give young people who have had a rough start in life, the opportunity to have a brighter future. 

The programme will be offered to youth transitioning out of care or homelessness, providing them with a small studio which will be located on the residential property of a host family. The independence of the young person will be fostered by the provision of personal space, coupled with the shared experienced gained by having a connection to a host family and community.

Strachan Group Architects (SGA Ltd) has been privileged to be involved in the development of two prototype studios for the My Whare programme – the Whare Tahi and the Whare Rua. SGA Ltd has had a relationship with Visionwest for nearly a decade, working with their housing team on various initiatives of which My Whare is the latest. 

Pat de Pont, SGA Ltd Director and Architect on the project says the whare borrows ideas from the tiny house movement to develop units that can be easily transported and connected to services in a typical suburban environment.

“The key to meeting these initial demands was to design the requirements of scale and weight for light trailers and to select construction materials for their lightness, strength and durability.”

Building the two prototype whares was undertaken by Crate Innovation Ltd, a Kingsland-based building company owned by brothers James and Fraser Strachan. The studios have light steel framing and are overlaid with an insulated oriented strand boards for stiffness with roofing and wall cladding completed mainly in Metalcraft Roofing's Corrugate profile. Baby corrugate was used on Whare Rua walls.

Crate Innovation has the ability to fabricate and pre-fabricate whare-type units, the inner walls and cabinetry of the whares employing the extensive use of sustainably sourced European poplar plywood which is a very lightweight and strong panel lining with a pale, fine-grained finish.

Interior colour scheme

Says Pat: “The small scale of these whare meant that the colour/materials palette needed to be restrained so that an “unfussy” calm could be maintained.  All the poplar linings and cabinetry have been clear finished with Aquaclear and this has been accented with black pre-finished plywood panels and fittings.  Flooring finishes are neutral greys with natural timber decking.

“A pop of colour to add a little light-heartedness to the scheme is provided in the indoor/outdoor window seats.  Lichen to complement the Scoria COLORSTEEL® in the Rua and the Flaxpod® COLORSTEEL® in the Tahi”.

Established 30 years ago, Visionwest began as a drop-in centre at the local disused railway station. It now offers wraparound support for the vulnerable including food support, budgeting, counselling, employment training, early childhood learning, home healthcare and housing. The latter beginning with the purchase of a property for emergency housing back in the early 1990s.

With 1,700 employees – one of West Auckland’s biggest employers – Visionwest has recently been able to purchase a vacant Salvation Army Church in Glen Eden to cater for its mushrooming growth.

The tiny studios Whare Rua and Whare Tahi have been developed to promote a vision to transition troubled young people into host family homes to set them on a road to self-reliance and independence. 

Pat de Pont
Strachan Group Architects

Crate Innovation Ltd
James Strachan
Fraser Strachan

Roofing Manufacturers
Metalcraft Roofing
COLORSTEEL® Scoria Maxx Corrugate
COLORSTEEL® Flaxpod® Maxx Corrugate
Roofing Industries Ltd
Scoria Maxx Slimline (Baby corrugate)

Roofing and Cladding Installer
Crate Innovation Ltd