The Government is believed to be poised to sign a series of construction contracts with a major Chinese/German consortium to build a large number of high rise apartment blocks as part of its KiwiBuild scheme.
Interest.co.nz understands the construction company is a joint venture between Shanghai-based Yuchun Heavy Building and Hamburg-based Kohl Engineering.
Both companies are at the leading edge of prefabricated construction techniques and each has extensive operations throughout Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe, although neither has operated in this country before.
It is understood that the first contract will be to build 10 apartment towers on land it has acquired from Unitec in the Auckland suburb of Mt Albert.
Each tower will be 20 storeys high and contain 400 apartments.
Although that is higher than the maximum height allowed under Auckland Council’s current Unitary Plan, the Government is likely to use the new the new Housing Authority it is setting up to push through the necessary changes to the planning rules to allow the towers to be built.
One advantage of high rise construction is that it allows for more open recreational space on a site compared to low rise developments, which is probably why the proposed project on the Unitec site has been tentatively named Oakley Creek Gardens, a reference to the Oakley Creek which runs along one of the site’s boundaries.
However the towers will not be constructed using traditional prefabrication techniques.
Both Yuchun and Kohl are leaders in the field of pod construction, in which a building is erected as a steel frame, and individual apartments are fully built in a factory and then transported to the site and slotted into the frame and fixed into place.
Using this method, individual apartments are supplied completely fitted out and arrive from the factory complete with bathroom fixtures including toilet, shower and vanity, fully fitted out kitchens and with floor coverings, light fixtures and even curtains already in place.
However it is understood the apartment blocks in this country will be constructed as Built Up Transportable Towers (BUTT).
This involves building complete apartment towers in sections that are each five to eight storeys high and transporting them by ship and road/rail to their final destination, where are stacked on top of each other to form towers that can be up to 24 storey high.
This method of construction became viable due to a downturn in the oil exploration industry, which saw many of the giant ships used to transport oil rigs around the world being laid up.
The Yuchun-Kohl joint venture is converting several of these ships so that they can carry the apartment tower segments from the factory in China to their final destination.
That means it is likely that the entire apartment complexes will be built in China and shipped here.
It is not yet known how the apartment tower segments will then be transported from the Port of Auckland to their ultimate site in Mt Albert.
However Labour may not be able to claim all of the credit for the deal.
It is believed that negotiations with Yuchun-Kohl were initiated by the former National Government, which wanted to use BUTT technology to import eight story prison blocks for several new jails it was planning to build if it had been elected for another term.
We hope our readers have enjoyed this year’s April Fool’s Day article from interest.co.nz.