Q&A with architect Dan Smith
Tell us about finding this piece of land.
I’m regularly hunting for the next design opportunity; architects are always seeking the potential of overlooked spaces. I stumbled across this listing with a stunning view over the Waikato River and convinced Sam to stop in on our way to visit family in Hamilton. Despite the shabby, run-down house on the front, the long north-facing site expanded all the way down to the river’s edge and caught our attention immediately.
You finished a lot of it yourself, what did you learn?
I can empathise more with a client’s point of view and also see things from the contractor’s perspective. Organising a dozen trades at once in a small space, a week out from Christmas is not easy. Apart from loving being involved wherever I could, I spent a good part of a year finishing the cedar rain screen, which was a great sense of accomplishment. Also, if architecture doesn’t work out for me, I think I’ll take up landscaping.
Since moving in, you’ve had your first baby – how’s the space working for a young family?
Acoustics, warmth and tactile materials were all considered when imagining our family home. The space has a sense of relaxation and tranquility, and the dual bedroom setup has created a nice connection – separate but close enough.
It feels generous, but it’s not a big house. Any plans to expand?
The original concept was for a 30-squaremetre studio on the river’s edge, however the need for a family home quickly expanded the brief. Living in a small home requires a sense of discipline in the way you live. Establishing comfortable minimums and priorities is integral to the design outcome. The design has been future proofed to add on another bedroom, ensuite and garage when the need occurs.
First floor 1. Entry 2. Living 3. Deck 4. Kitchen 5. Laundry 6. Bathroom 7. Bedroom 8. Mezzanine