Completed: 2018, Dunedin
Builder: Stevenson & Williams Ltd.
Photography: Simon Devitt
A treehouse in suspension, this family home in Dunedin, built on a steep, marginal site, appears to hover in the bush. Simplicity and efficiency are the cornerstone principles that provide a solid footing, given that the section dropped away 50 metres from the road.
The complexities of the building platform meant the dwelling was squeezed between vertigo and vegetation, and a prudent use of resources drove its linear shape and humble size. But there is also judicious experimentation. The roof flicks up at a rebellious angle above the main bedrooms and the entry platform, lined in timber, with yellow-painted structural ribs, is a playful portico, a portal that crosses over to the interior.
Zincalume cladding puts the emphasis on the vertical in this two-storey home and is a silvery foil to the greenery. This metallic coat is punctuated by windows that capture moments within the near and distant landscape, including a kōwhai tree, now the natural hero of an outlook from the living room.
Internally, walls are lined in ply, while yellow window joinery and a ceiling panel which disguises services in the open-plan living zone provides a pop of visual relief. An efficient, hardworking plan means that within the 116-square-metre floorplate, there are spaces to work, spaces to play, spaces to gather and spaces to be apart. While the pragmatic decision was made to opt for street parking, an external shed on the only piece of flat ground near the entrance provides storage.
Designed to rigorous Certified Passive House standards, this compact but comfortable home is energy efficient and healthy to live in. It is both shelter and retreat. Judges at the 2019 NZIA New Zealand Awards called it “a little box of inbuilt happiness”.
2019 NZIA New Zealand Architecture Awards Jury comments.2019 South Pacific Passive House; Architectural Merit Award