Friday, 14 March 2014

Upper Greys Avenue flats

The Housing NZ flats at 115-139 Grey Avenue (known as the Upper Greys Ave flats) are going to undergo a much needed makeover. The land behind the flats, which is currently being used as a car park, will  be sold off. The other state housing flats nearby at 95-113 Grey Ave (known as the Lower Greys Ave Flats) were upgraded 5 years ago and will also remain in state hands.

 
Ref: Greys Ave showing the two Housing NZ flats, Auckland Council GIS Viewer, March 2014
Prior to the building of both of these blocks of flats, the area around Greys Avenue or Grey Street as it was known them, was home to a Chinese community. It was regarded by some (including the government) as a ‘slum' and  in 1941, the Labour government, with financial backing from the council, started to clear the area, which  made way for the building of both sets of flats.

Ref: 580-2234, architectural model of the multi-storey state flats in Greys Ave 1956-1957, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The Upper Greys Ave flats were designed by the government architect, Gordon Wilson (1900-1959). Completed in 1958, they were intended for single people or couples with no children, who preferred an inner city life. Wilson joined the Housing Department from the beginning and his skills were well utilised in his role as Government Architect

Ref: 7-A1264, State Housing at 139 Greys Ave, c. 1962, Sir George Grey Special Collections
In comparison with the Lower block, the Upper block is taller and slimmer and has more glazing. It currently has 70 two-bedroom maisonettes and 16 bed-sits. The renovations will retain the maisonettes but 13 new one-bedroom units will replace the old ones and the laundry on the roof will be also be completely renovated.

The Lower flats are listed in the Central Area section of the Auckland Council District Plan (see appendix, p. 9, ref no. 48) and are also listed by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Historic Place Category 2. Whilst the Upper flats do not have this type of status, they do however feature in John Holmwood's 1959 painting, which is held in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery.
 
Ref: 580-14734, Flats in Greys Avenue, c. 1960-1969, Sir George Grey Special Collections 
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