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Thorne Group


Urban Ridge: What made the design so special? (Part 3)

Urban Ridge consists of almost 150 homes, divided over seven stages. A 22-hectare development that was the long-term vision of Bob Thorne (Dad). Each home has been carefully designed to ensure every single one is unique, maximises passive solar thermal energy, ensures privacy from close neighbours, and even on a small site often has multiple outdoor living spaces. This design model for larger scale developments is incredibly rare itself, with the majority of developers choosing to replicate the same design across each site.

When the Centre for Housing Research Aotearoa New Zealand commissioned a report to explore just why Urban Ridge was so successful, both community spirit (read more about this here) and design were identified as two of the key draw cards. Stylish, and visually appealing homes with high specifications were mentioned by residents in the interviews. Residents talked about a ‘wow’ factor they experienced when walking into the Open Home. Internal features such as the atrium, light open living areas, and stylish kitchens, were very much features that converted prospective buyers.

Urban Ridge homes

Outside, people feel comfortable enjoying their outdoor areas and do not feel they are encroaching on others.

“They’re all built so that you don’t overlook each other. Next door, their outdoor area looks onto our spare bedroom, we don’t see them.”

“It’s probably better than what we thought because we were a bit ... not concerned, but because of the closeness. We hadn’t had any this close to us and we hadn’t overlooked anybody. You never hear anybody, they’re so well insulated and it’s double glazed, and even when the windows are open you can’t really hear.”

Some examples of Urban Ridge specifications

Over time, a childcare facility and small shopping centre, including a coffee shop, were built nearby, with the adjacent Gordon Carmichael Reserve continuing to flourish. Having everything on their doorstep, reducing the requirement for a car also contributed to the success Urban Ridge.

Gordon Carmichael Reserve

It was with great sadness that Dad didn’t get to see the final house completed after passing away in 2020. However, we are also extremely proud of the legacy he has left behind, with a community that facilitates connection, in a world where this is so often lacking. It was Dad’s wish that others learn from this model, so it could be replicated in some degree.

Bob & Judy Thorne outside an Urban Ridge home.


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