While New Zealand is primarily known in the Northern Hemisphere as the majestic locale of the “Lord of the Rings” films, its striking landscapes aren’t the only sites worth settling. The biggest Kiwi cities — Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin — offer their own slew of urban living solutions. These six private residences, designed by Kiwi architects, and on small urban footprints, expose the diversity of contemporary housing down under. From Turrell-esque skylights to curtain-walled staircases, the homes pictured use their architecture to frame a different — more populous and less Hobbiton — New Zealand.
This 2014 Auckland home by Sayes Studio was designed for the principal architect himself. Built on a small site and budget, this modest Auckland home chose to celebrate its framework rather than conceal. The large trusses are considered as character elements, as are the many other simple pockets of the home. The deep window seats, backyard “hill” and metallic window blinds all contribute to this slice of urban serenity.
This 2003 residence by Wellington firm Parsonson Architects reveals, quite explicitly, the beauty of the New Zealand urban landscape. Sitting above the Wellington Harbour, the architects took every opportunity to enmesh the surrounding vistas with the interior experience. The introduction of dramatic textures and shadows seen out the windows as patterning inside, creates a home harmonious with its urban nature.
Another capital city home, the Nelson House in Wellington, is the direct product of the rural-turned-urban mentality. The Nelsons charged a.k.a. Architecture with building them a house that retained the sense of vastness of rural New Zealand for their beachside urban home. The product is a home of dual architectonics, meeting at a central hearth. While one wing is devoted to relaxation, the other is to working — a structural symbolic of the client’s desire.
In New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland’s Norrish House by Herbst Architects is characterized by its defining courtyard. The central “room” connects the surrounding “pavilions” used for sleeping, cooking, dining, washing and relaxing. Providing privacy, the sliding doors surround the courtyard add variety and option to the relation of these living pavilions with the courtyard. Amongst the bustle of Auckland, the Norrish House retains a precise sense of site enabled by interior-exterior ambiguity and flexibility, and a sharply delineated entryway.
Five years following the devastating earthquakes in Christchurch, in 2015 Case Ornsby Design completed this disaster-proof single family residence. After purchasing the land of a previously wrecked home, the clients sought to rebuild a light-weight and nature-complimentary home. Inspired by the traditional English farmhouse found in New Zealand, the architects chose to build in such a style — one that flows with the sometimes-shaky terrain instead of contrary to it. The resulting home is both voluminous and effortless.
This House in Herne Bay overlooks an Auckland harbor. Due to zoning restrictions — namely, the site is in an area of significant heritage — the home had to comply with design standards of the archetypical Herne Bay home. While maintaining this requisite character, Daniel Marshall Architects designed a contemporary and imaginative home. Built in concrete, the tri-level nature of the traditional villa is strikingly displayed through modern materiality, and simultaneously tested by an open plan and outdoor living space.