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Toiora is a cohousing neighbourhood located on the edge of Dunedin’s central city green belt. The development comprises 24 homes or various sizes and a range of shared facilities including guest rooms, common laundry, a common workshop, social spaces and extensive gardens. Unlike most multi-unit housing projects there was no developer involved. The project was developed entirely by, and for, the future residents. From the first design workshops it was clear that the client group wanted to create a sustainable, affordable, village-type environment which facilitated stronger neighbourhood relationships.

Our response was to design two sets of townhouses massed around the edge of the site creating a sheltered central green space. The building on the southern boundary was designed as a 3 storey block to match the scale of existing buildings along High Street and because there would be no overshading of the site along this boundary. The townhouses along the east boundary were designed as 2 storey homes so as to reduce shading of the green space in the mornings. All the roof planes were designed to face north to accommodate future solar panel installations. The blocks themselves were designed as modular to suit a range of unit sizes from 1-5 bedroom homes. These modules could be ‘swapped out’ during the design process depending on market demand for a particular sized home. The 5-4 bed homes occupy 3 levels. Ground level 1 bedroom units are paired with 2-3 bedroom units which sit above. Together this pairing occupies the same footprint and volume as the 5-4 bedroom homes.

Awards and

New Zealand Institute of Architects
Southern Architecture Award
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About the

Architype is an award winning architectural practice specialising in the design of high performance Passive House and low energy residential and community architecture.


At Architype we believe that good design is worth the effort. We know that building is expensive and to us it just makes sense to put the effort in at the design stage to carefully think through the design and develop solutions which, once constructed, will provide a lifetime of delight for the building users.

We also know that, “delight” is more than just good space planning and elegant building form, it is also about the long term and comfort and energy efficiency of the building. At Architype our focus is on creating buildings which provide warm, healthy and affordable environments for building users.

Comfortable and low energy buildings can’t be created by bolting on solutions at the end of the design process. When understood properly these factors will influence almost every key decision in the design process.


At Architype, in addition to considering important traditional architectural issues like: context, views, town planning, entry, public and private space, circulation and orientation, we add additional design considerations to the mix. These include: favouring compact building forms, appropriate distribution and shading of windows, continuity in insulation, draught proof construction, thermal bridge free detailing and strategies for the simple distribution of ventilation ducting.

We believe that an understanding of building science and a passion for good design should go hand in hand.

Our projects employ a range of high performance building systems and components including high performance timber framing, various types of structural insulated panels, insulated concrete forms, uPVC windows, European timber windows and ventilation systems with heat recovery.

We love to work with clients who are informed and see the value in building better.


With highly integrated design comes the need for powerful tools for the development and communication of projects. All our projects are modeled using Building Information Modelling software or BIM. Using this powerful software a virtual model of each project is created from which all of the drawings are derived. Change a door on one drawing and it changes in every drawing. As the project progresses from the initial concept design to detailed design, more and more information is added to the model creating a more and more complete reflection of the final building. We are able to export files to our clients who can explore the design in 3D on their own computer or tablet. More than ever before this has allowed our clients to visualise and understand their projects before any work begins on site. Not only has this improved communication but it also results in fewer changes on site.

We can also leverage the digital model to quickly create additional deliverables like sun studies, energy modelling, schedules and promotional material.