What is ‘future-ready’ infrastructure?

Piritahi is an alliance of civil engineering and construction companies, working on Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities’ large-scale urban redevelopments across Auckland. Piritahi streamlines land development, laying the groundwork for neighbourhoods that are better to live in and homes that are more affordable. To enhance neighbourhoods and build new housing, we must look beyond just the homes we live in and to the systems that serve them - both today and into the future. That’s why designing and constructing future-ready infrastructure is a key objective for each of the neighbourhoods we’re working in.

What is ‘future-ready’ infrastructure?

Infrastructure is the systems and networks that service neighbourhoods, integral to the safe and comfortable functioning of communities. They include transportation networks like roads, cycleways and walkways, and utilities such as telecommunications services, water and sewerage systems and access to electricity.

‘Future-ready’ infrastructure means systems and networks that are modern, up to date, and capable of meeting the community’s needs for decades to come. For the team at Piritahi, this means upgrading much of Auckland’s existing infrastructure and designing and constructing new infrastructure capable of supporting our ever-evolving lifestyles.

Why do we need future-ready infrastructure?

Auckland is home to an estimated 1.66 million people. Thirty years from now, that number is estimated to reach 2.4 million. That’s an extra 720,000 people in a city where housing is already in hot demand. The solution? Greater intensification and higher density residential development across existing suburban areas.

But as housing density increases, so too does the demand on infrastructure. The majority of Auckland’s existing infrastructure was constructed decades ago and is ill-equipped to support our population now, let alone in thirty years’ time.

What’s more, our lives and needs have changed. Not only do we need more transport infrastructure, for example, we need a variety of transport infrastructure too; our reduced reliance on cars calls for alternative modes of transport like cycle paths and more walkable neighbourhoods.

Finally, our infrastructure must be able to withstand environmental extremes. Today, modern standards require more robust systems to cope with severe weather events. Yet outdated infrastructure remains in place across some pockets of Auckland, including our development neighbourhoods where we are working hard to bring them up to date. For example, stormwater and wastewater networks must now be separated to avoid overflows into the ocean and waterways. Piritahi is working in Ōwairaka to separate the neighbourhood’s combined storm and wastewater system that’s currently in place.

How Piritahi designs and constructs future-ready infrastructure

Each development neighbourhood is masterplanned by Kāinga Ora. The plan details the number and location of new homes and new and upgraded assets such as roads, pathways, parks and public spaces. 

Piritahi looks at a masterplan to determine where new and upgraded infrastructure is required. This is done by conducting site investigations to determine the current capacity of existing infrastructure, and whether it’s capable of supporting an increase in homes and public amenity. Factors like how much traffic the local roads and footpaths can comfortably accommodate; whether the local sewer and stormwater network can service a community into the future; and if the current water supply network is sufficient to supply drinking water to future residents are all considered.

The answers to these questions, and others like them, inform what our civil and land development engineers design and construct to support communities living in our development neighbourhoods - both now and in the future.

Case study - Undergrounding power and communications networks in Roskill South

The team at Piritahi is currently in the process of undergrounding some of the power and telecommunications network in Roskill South, where trenching through berms and pathways has begun. New power and telecommunication lines will run through these trenches to service new homes built in the area. They will also continue to the facade of existing homes, connecting current residents to the new network. Once finished, overhead power lines will be removed and other streetscaping activities will begin.

This process has many benefits - it makes the streetscapes look tidier, and removes the risk of people and animals coming into contact with power lines. It also helps future-proofs neighbourhoods; undergrounding power and telecommunications lines protect them from the elements, making them less susceptible to extreme weather events. This is important for the seamless functioning of our neighbourhoods, especially as more people work from home and our day-to-day reliance on electricity increases.

Infrastructure improvements such as these will benefit our development neighbourhoods and keep our communities thriving for years to come.