Designed for you – and the Neighbours

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Architecture that embraces the shape of families and their futures should also look outwards – and be a good citizen of the built environment

The changing face of the residential landscape in Auckland, and the regulation that surrounds this, brings with it opportunity and its inevitable partner – challenge.

The Unitary Plan has allowed intensification of urban and suburban sites; that doesn’t only mean vertically, as in the case of mid-rise apartments, you can also put more homes on smaller pieces of land potentially without the costs of sub-division. Many homeowners can now build something out the back of an existing family property. Whether that’s a first home for the kids, a self-contained studio to rent out or a retirement retreat to move into while letting the original house, thoughtful architecture has a vital role to play.

The ‘Auckland’ house might once have been a bungalow on a quarter-acre site but that is the stuff of nostalgia. With increased construction costs and decreased area to locate your home on, new budget-savvy solutions include using curated design principles and standardised material sizes to keep waste to a minimum, opting for a duplex (with a shared wall) to achieve economy of scale and investigating lifestyle choices (such as whether a double garage that often becomes a big storage zone is really the way of the future).

Of course when it’s likely you’ll be snuggling up to the neighbours, height-to-boundary controls need careful consideration. Although the modernist aesthetic Box™ has become known for generally suits a mono-pitch roof, we’ll always advise a gable form when it offers the scope to push the building closer to the boundary. 

Similarly, there are still firm rules about site coverage. At Box™, we’ve designed many small-footprint homes in the 10 years we’ve been in business. Our philosophy is always to be smart with space, keeping the kitchen/living/dining area as the hero, while making the bedrooms functional but compact. There are no unnecessary corridors or circulation zones, plus standard full-height joinery and seamless connection to the outdoors allow rooms to feel so much bigger than they actually are.

Located on a volcanic field between two harbours, Tāmaki Makaurau has topography that is less than ideal for building on. We dream of clients who come to us with a big, flat site! Those sections that are still available are often tiny and tricky – steep with access issues – so a generic design from a group-home company is unlikely to cut the mustard. Bespoke architecture that flexes with the land, and moulds to your dreams, is where it’s at.

Designed with you. Built for you. That’s our message. But while we understand the power of personalising architecture, we also encourage you to think bigger than that. What about the way your home speaks to the immediate built landscape? Contemporary design should be mindful of its surrounds and the wider community. If that’s a heritage zone, it could be a gable that gives a nod to the workingman’s cottages and/or horizontal weatherboards to channel the Victoria villa. Whatever the nature of the locale, scale and proportion that enhance the streetscape is simply the neighbourly thing to do.