Ed­i­tor’s let­ter

HOME Magazine NZ - - Editor’s Letter - — Si­mon Far­rell-Green

The last time we faced a hous­ing cri­sis of this mag­ni­tude was af­ter World War II, when thou­sands of re­turned ser­vice­men wanted to set­tle down all at once, and when my grand­par­ents fi­nally found some­where to rent in 1949, not long af­ter they got mar­ried. The half villa on Gillies Av­enue in Ep­som, Auck­land, was cold and draughty, but it was home. Over the past few months, I’ve of­ten won­dered what they’d make of the mess we’ve made, again, of hous­ing – only this time, we don’t even have a war to blame. We’ve failed to think about land sup­ply or den­sity. We’ve failed to think about fi­nanc­ing. And we’ve failed to think about how and where new homes should be built. More­over, we’ve made our houses too big and too ex­pen­sive. The av­er­age size of a new New Zealand house is now 240 square me­tres, which costs many hun­dreds of thou­sands to build. Some­thing has to give and in April this year, for the first time in decades, the av­er­age size of a new Auck­land home dipped. Hur­rah! Cost aside, small houses of­ten of­fer the chance to live in some­thing bet­ter – as you’ll see in our cover home on the banks of the Waikato River by Dan Smith. It’s small but pure: stand­ing in his high-ceilinged liv­ing room look­ing at the river, you won­der why on earth you could ever need more space than this. There’s an irony here. Two of the other houses in this is­sue were built in the 1950s. In Wellington, Ernst Plis­chke de­signed a small flat above a garage for art col­lec­tor Lyn Cor­ner’s mother; in Hawke’s Bay, the home of Ben Daly started as a stan­dard Min­istry of Works rail­way cot­tage. To­gether, they of­fer so­lu­tions for a par­tic­u­larly thorny cri­sis. Let’s just hope we don’t re­peat the same mis­takes in another few decades.

Top right Us­ing ba­sic tools, two peo­ple can build this pre­fab house by Fern­mark (p.77). Top left An ex­hi­bi­tion at the Dan­ish pavil­ion at the Venice ar­chi­tec­ture bi­en­nale (p.44). Above right An 80-year-old mod­ernist mas­ter­piece in Auck­land (p.160)....

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