Breaking the mould

Amy
Thursday 24 Nov 2011

Courtyard house designed in response to local geological context goes against the grain of suburban housing

The key ambition of the client for this project was to push the conventions of the New Zealand house. The client, who was also the builder, was interested in something that was a challenge to build. His brief called for a large house, even though the site is very small and the residential rules in the area fairly severe. This led to the development of a courtyard house, compressed into the small site and composed of three levels.

The local rules, which promote suburban houses in the middle of the site, were put under pressure and the consent process involved a great deal of negotiation. Conceptually, the house developed as an active response to the taut geological and aesthetic context of Wellington; the city is amongst steep hills that are shaped by the meeting of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, and the architecture there is vertical and tough in response.

This drove the decision to use heavy concrete elements that appear to have been jolted by large forces. These concrete screens are arranged in various dynamic ways - leaning, elevated or floating - and form the outer carapace to the house.

Within this, courtyards are separated off by glass, which threads between the concrete screens. This brings the house in active and equivalent relationship with the landscape; the house is considered to flow to the limits of the site and the activities within it are part of a single space. This makes for a dynamic social arrangement but the home has areas of intimacy and varying degrees of privacy to suit how the client wants to live in each area; it is conceptually one space but varies in intensity.

The house is part of an ongoing research project and has only been possible due to the irrepressible enthusiasm and energy of its owner/builder. It was completed in October 2011.

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team
Jobs
  • Town Planning Manager | Housebuilder in Surrey | 3+ years' PQE

    Are you a Town Planner with some commercial experience under your belt (consultancy or developer)? Would you like to work for a regional housebuild...
    • Lewis Davey
    • Surrey - near M25/M23 junction
  • Principal Planning Consultant (Policy)

    This is a career opportunity for somebody looking to play a key role in the delivery of an effective and efficient planning policy service.
    • Capita
    • Manchester/Salford (North West) or Breckland or North Tyneside or Barnet (North London)
  • Planning Officers

    Work as key members of the Councils development management service providing pre-application advice, dealing with applications and appeals.
    • Chiltern and South Bucks Council
    • Amersham, Buckinghamshire
  • Enforcement Officer - Hertfordshire

    A Local Authority in Hertfordshire are looking for an Enforcement Officer to assist them with a backlog of cases for an initial contract of 3-6 months
    • Oyster Partnership
    • Hertfordshire
  • Planning Officer

    Do you want to work for a Planning Authority in a superb world-class location, that also has an outstanding record of achievement?
    • Plymouth City Council
    • Plymouth, Devon