Studio Pacific’s masterplan for the Seatoun waterfront development included a diverse range of plot sizes and housing types appealing to a variety of demographics. The Courtyard Houses were developed on the medium-density plot located at the centre of the development, away from the harbour-edge view. Clustered together, they form a series of interlocking sheltered, private and sunlit courtyards that challenges the suburban archetype of detached houses on discrete sections, offering instead a new way of thinking about contemporary suburban life.
The traditional approach to suburban development that places each house at the centre of its section would have produced unusable shady strips of yard at the side of each house and left the section exposed to the buffeting coastal winds. Instead, living and bedroom spaces are shifted to the edges of the section, maximising space and creating a central sun-filled, sheltered courtyard with which the rooms of the house directly engage. A strategy of shared walls and interconnecting spaces replaces the archetypical configuration of suburban houses.
The houses comprise two basic models; the single-storeyed 16m (120m2) houses are spaced between the two-storey 20m (160m2) houses so that views and sun are maximised. Living spaces face to the north, and clerestory windows ensure good light and connection to the outside, with second-storey spaces carefully arranged to allow views out to the harbour and hills with minimal overshadowing.
NZIA Wellington Architecture Award for Multiple Housing, 2006