With New Zealand – and par­tic­u­larly Auck­land – suf­fer­ing from a hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity and space prob­lem, An­dre de Graaf, a di­rec­tor at Isth­mus Group, sees small homes as the an­swer to many of the ques­tions be­ing raised. He tells Ge­orgina Har­ris about the

Idealog - - SECTION -

An­dre De Graaf, a di­rec­tor at Isth­mus Group, is the first to ad­mit he’s on a bit of a cru­sade to pro­mote the ben­e­fits of liv­ing in a small home.

“For me, small homes are in­her­ently more sus­tain­able and cer­tainly, with the chang­ing de­mo­graphic and shift­ing at­ti­tudes to sus­tain­abil­ity, this is a big is­sue. The very na­ture of small­ness, re­duced foot­print and low im­pact, is cool, it’s a good thing.”

In a city like Auck­land, he sees small homes as some­thing that would work well.

“A small home is a form of in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion, and for some people far more palat­able than a three or four storey apart­ment. I’m a huge ad­vo­cate of three, four storey apart­ment build­ings in the right place and I’m ab­so­lutely not say­ing they should come in place of them – but Auck­land is all about lots of pock­ets of in­fill and small clus­ters of small homes is a fan­tas­tic way to do this.”

De Graaf says other el­e­ments such as de­sign, com­mu­nity and de­clut­ter­ing life­style should be a fac­tor in con­sid­er­ing a small home.

“We need to con­ceive of small homes as highly sought-af­ter, some­thing to be de­sired and wanted. We need to be trad­ing vac­u­ous space for a lift in com­pact clever de­sign.”

He says a small home isn’t just tak­ing a large spec’ home - that trades on space - shrink­ing it and think­ing that’s ac­cept­able.

“You have to push up the de­sign qual­ity, it must use the spa­ces clev­erly and its con­struc­tion well-en­gi­neered.”

Small homes also foster com­mu­nity, says De Graaf.

He uses the ex­am­ple that if it’s a nice week­end, a com­mon shared gar­den al­lows the neigh­bor­hood kids to in­ter­act and come to­gether.

“It’s a space where you share on your terms – you can choose to be pri­vate and be in your own home or not.”

De Graaf says large mod­ern homes have started in­ter­nal­iz­ing our liv­ing style from me­dia rooms to sec­ond lounges and gyms, and he thinks that when one gets rid of all that ex­tra­ne­ous stuff you ex­ter­nal­ize it.

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