City House – Wellington
With its beautiful, simple minimalist form and modernist design influences, this house is low slung, slender, and discreet to achieve privacy for its inner city, corner location.
The site is located very close to the Wellington fault, so earthquake resilience was a major concern and a specific priority in the technical and structural elements of the design.
As a result, the house’s resilience in a major earthquake is comparable with Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, with an exceedance probability of once in 2,500 years (or an event likely to occur once in 2,500 years).
Contrast this with the requirements of once in 500 years under the current building code, it is not only designed to withstand a major earthquake, it allows for continued use and reduced cost of repair from the majority of earthquake events.
The building’s floating form serves this practical aspect, with the open subfloor providing easier access to the underside of the building to allow for maintenance to services and subfloor connections. This functional aspect of the design provides a lightweight aesthetic to the building form, that touches the gently sloping ground along one side, and floats up off the ground on the other.
The tall street side corner of the building is the pinnacle of the design, making a hierarchical combination of the building’s floating foundation, angled walls and roof, cladding and window joinery features, and reaches out to the street to give people passing by an intimate glimpse of the buildings makeup.
Zinc was chosen for both the wall cladding and roofing as an ideal material to form a long lasting, continuous hard outer shell, protecting the building from its intense urban environment. While incisions into the outer skin expose the soft texture of the timber cladding in the sheltered areas. A smaller footprint (allowing for design within the district plan rules, negating any requirement for a resource consent) still allows a feeling of generosity with space and light, balanced with privacy requirements from the busy street corner.