Small House, Wellington
Winner Bronze Award, Spatial Design (Residential), BEST Awards 2010
Winner NZIA Local Awards 2008
The postcard view of Mt Victoria is one of Wellington’s most treasured. A brief to undertake a major renovation of this 1950s Mt Victoria house required a careful balancing of the client’s desire for a contemporary apartment-style home with the need to remain sensitive to the qualities of the surrounding area.
The existing house, with its flat-roofed concrete form, was already distinct from the adjacent traditional timber houses. Rather than create a pastiche of traditional styles, the exterior form was retained and reclad. The restrained palette of materials in muted tones and transparent bands of full-height glazing set into projecting zinc bays give the house a light, almost ethereal quality that allows it to settle discreetly into its context. Visible horizontal lines created by aluminium louvres and the seams of the zinc cladding around the windows relate to the surrounding weatherboard exteriors. A new lightweight roof now crowns the building, angling up as a gesture to the pitched roofs of the nearby villas and incorporating a roof terrace delicately finished with glass balustrades
Unusually for a house, street access is from the top floor, and internal stairs lead down into the house, with a spatial sequence furling from open to intimate. An existing service well in the middle of the house was transformed into a small courtyard contemplation space, allowing light to flood into the entry foyer. On the upper floors, living areas were opened up to the panoramic views of Wellington harbour. The self-contained unit tucked into the ground floor of the house emerges into a flat landscaped terrace garden that, overlooked by the upper floors, extends out towards the view. A discreet stairway down the side of the garden offers private access to Oriental Bay.
Client: Malcolm and Christine Small