Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Program: 120m2 3 bedroom home & studio
Cost: NZ$ 500,000
Chris Moller, Dan Cole, Dunning Thornton, eCubed Building Workshop
Located on an upper plateau on Wellington’s western hutt hills with magnificant views of the harbour to the south and Tararua Mountain’s to the north-east. It sits directly adjacent to a native bush reserve with a public access way along the southern boundary. The lower south-east half of the property is bushclad offering direct engagement with native fauna and flora. While the site offers outstanding views south, this is in conflict with sun orientation to the north. The location is also highly exposed to winds, particularly the strong winter southerly winds. A stormwater drain cuts across the middle of the site along the bushline bisecting it in two creating an additional challenge limiting the area available.
The forces that have shaped the land and the species of fauna and flora that have adapted to live here offer insights for a poetic, ecological yet economic architecture. The challenges of the site require a response to the conflicts of sun versus view and aspect, while also taking into account the challenge of wind exposure especially the strong winter southerly.
A modest budget and brief focused on simplicity and functionality lead to a simple east-west orientated rectilinear plan maximising views to the south, and sun to the north within an aerodynamic form. Living spaces are located at the west end orientated to afternoon sun, and main bedroom at the east end, orientated to morning sun with balcony overlooking native bush and views to the mountains. The plan is set out on an economic 3.0m module for pre-fab construction. The aim being to reduce time on-site and raise quality of components.
The section in contrast to the plan is not rectilinear, informed by the profile of ancient stone ventifacts shaped by the wind.
The section is shaped by the need to minimise wind resistance externally. Internally walls and roofs are angled to maximise sun, view and privacy. Storage areas are located along the north wall to provide privacy from the neighbours. Sun enters through a strip of skylights above. The south window wall is designed with an integrated seat to provide stiffness. The window is tilted to optimise views beyond and comfortable to lean against. Pre-cast reinforced concrete foundation frames are set out on 3.0m module to define the spatial and structural layout for the entire building. Supporting tie-beams between the concrete frames are mechanically fixed on-site to support the pre-cast concrete floor-slab elements. The concrete floor-slab is folded to form a structural U beam along the south facade of the house. The floorslab supports internal precast concrete Y-Frame columns which are slotted through the floor slab and braced through the internal concrete sheer wall and high level tie beam to support the plywood-metal roof structure.