HELE CSTUDY
A Double Dose of Design

The densification of Auckland encouraged by the Unitary Plan comes laced with both challenge and opportunity. The best pathway through the complexities of fitting more homes into a suburban context is good design.

This property in the seaside suburb of St Heliers east of the city was typical of its era - an 804-square-metre site graced with a 1950s weatherboard dwelling. Over five decades, the house had become rundown and its layout made it feel cramped, although it did sport a cheery red colour scheme, its saving grace.

When the sub-division rules changed, the owners, a couple with two children, saw the chance to upgrade to a brand new home. Instead of slicing off a piece of their section and selling it, they commissioned Box™ to design two homes on the newly created separate titles – a main house for the family and a slightly smaller one for the neighbouring land which they had earmarked for sale.

This approach was a double win: it gave the incumbents more control of the process (who wants to be stuck with an ugly tardis looming over your shoulder) and the proceeds from the sale of the home would substantially reduce their mortgage.

The Box™ team designed a pair of houses that spoke the same architectural language. The 201-square-metre ‘minor’ house is not confined to the rear, out of sight. Instead, it sits proudly alongside with its bigger cousin which boasts 240-square metres of easy living over two levels.

By keeping the palette of materials consistent, the dwellings present a unified presence to the street. The concept for the duo was of a single gable ‘split’ down the middle, as if once they had shared a common roof before being prised apart. A shared driveway runs between the homes to garaging tucked behind on the southern side.

Staggering the placement of the houses on the site, allows privacy particularly when it comes to the outdoor living. Slot windows on the elevations that face each other restrict the line of sight and north-facing decks opening to the sunny street are setback from one another so that both owners can barbecue at once without the risk of serious food envy.

Crafting the design details with precision including the timber accents on the front façade and the Juliet balconies that lead out from each master bedroom on the upper floors is essential to this design.

Side-by-side in companionable harmony, this design-mindful duo has delivered twice as much value for two fortunate families.