IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS
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
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.