White light

A house for five, and a one-car garage. It’s a home for the fu­ture…

Element - - Architects - By John Walsh

The Grey Lynn house de­signed for his own fam­ily by Richard Naish of RTA Stu­dio – a bold and strik­ing build­ing in its vil­laand-bun­ga­low neigh­bour­hood – is in the main­stream of cur­rent sus­tain­able de­sign prac­tice. That is, Naish says, the house’s de­sign in­cor­po­rates sus­tain­able prin­ci­ples “with­out mak­ing a song and dance about it.”

The House for Five – two par­ents and three young chil­dren – stretches along the front of an un­usu­ally gen­er­ous sec­tion and in the rear wraps around a north-fac­ing court­yard that looks out on large na­tive trees that have some­how sur­vived sub­ur­ban de­vel­op­ment.

The house is long and thin. Nar­row wings de­ployed in a horse­shoe­shaped plan al­low for ef­fec­tive cross ven­ti­la­tion, and a screened ‘out­door room’ at the north end of the main, west-fac­ing form is well­suited to the de­mands of Auck­land’s sticky sum­mers.

The house’s con­crete slab pro­vides ther­mal mass, and the house is suf­fi­ciently in­su­lated that it re­quires a soli­tary heat pump.

Naish is an ar­chi­tect who is not afraid to de­sign build­ings which ex­press his en­joy­ment of the pos­si­bil­i­ties of ar­chi­tec­ture. RTA’S Iron­bank build­ing on Karanga­hape Road, for ex­am­ple, is a bravura ex­er­cise in which grunty el­e­ments are soft­ened by dec­o­ra­tive touches.

He has taken a sim­i­lar ap­proach on his own house, echo­ing the Vic­to­rian fret­work of neigh­bour­hood houses in the pat­terns of the façade screens. A win­ner in the res­i­den­tial ar­chi­tec­ture cat­e­gory in the 2011Auck­land Ar­chi­tec­ture Awards, the House for Five, an­nounced the judg­ing panel, “is an in­ter­est­ing and creative ad­di­tion to an ex­ist­ing char­ac­ter street”.

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