“We have moved into our home and it is divine! I am in love with it.” - Owner241
The proud owners of this new house in the Hutt Valley are well-respected building contractors – who had never before lived in a home they had built. Naturally, they knew many architects, so we were delighted to be entrusted with realising their dream of a lifetime.
Having lived many years in the area, the owners valued its heritage and their many friendships. For us, designing a new house in an established neighbourhood brings the added responsibility of ‘fitting in’.
We believe it is best not to reproduce the past, because materials, technology and lifestyle have all changed. However we can pay respect and draw inspiration from the surroundings.
The house fits its context well because its basic forms and proportions echo the others in the neighbourhood. Its direct relationship with the street is also quite traditional. In particular the tall two story proportions and steep roofs are in scale with huge old oak trees surrounding the property. The weatherboard cladding and metal roofing are familiar in the locality. The contrasting stone piers in a bespoke colour make a connection to the Hutt River. Together, these classic materials are put together in a contemporary way. The doors and windows are of traditional proportions, but without fussy subdivision – because unlike a century ago, glass comes in large panes!
The best endorsement of the design in its context has been favourable comments from neighbours that the house ‘fits in and looks like it has always been there’.
Inside, the heights of the spaces are in proportion to their size, making full use of the available volumes.
The living room has a high raking ceiling, and the stairwell is a full two storeys high.
A special feature is the ‘outdoor room’ – a roofed space with an open fire, kitchenette, and shutters to allow it to be opened or closed depending on the weather.
The flat site has very large trees on the boundaries. If not carefully considered in the design, there was a risk of severe shading. This is a good example of how the team at Wright & Gray Architects Ltd go to great lengths to consider the siting of a house and its relationship to the surrounding environment, to get the most from the site. At the earliest stages, we did rigorous sun study animations on our CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) software. Various options were discussed with the client, and the layout evolved until we were all happy that the house would optimise its position on site to take full advantage of the available sun during all seasons. We continued to use the sun study throughout the varying stages of the design process, as it provided a logic for the overall spatial arrangement of the house, as well as placement of doors, windows, skylights and outdoor areas.