A Surprisingly Spacious Home, On A Tiny Footprint

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with the unused, sloping sliver of garden at the back of your home, consider this project by Strachan Group Architects.

When presented with an otherwise untenable piece of land, the Auckland based architecture studio created a compact family home that – despite its size – celebrates comfortable, spacious living.

Bea Taylor

Back House in Auckland, New Zealand, designed by Roy Tebbutt of  Strachan Group Architects (SGA Ltd). Photo – Ross Keane.

The home was constructed by Create & Construct with Tebbutt Builders Ltd. The exterior features Larch cladding and a Colorsteel roof. Photo – Ross Keane.

Prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels finished with oil make up the walls, ceiling and floor for a seamless interior look. Photo – Ross Keane.

The ceiling is raised at the north end of the home to allow morning, midday and afternoon sun to flood the living and dining spaces. Photo – Ross Keane.

Photo – Ross Keane.

Photo – Ross Keane.

Photo – Ross Keane.

Photo – Ross Keane.

Bea Taylor
31st of January 2022

Occupying a low profile on a sloping site in Auckland, New Zealand, this small home designed by Roy Tebbutt of Strachan Group Architects (SGA Ltd) impresses beyond its 64sqm footprint. 

Aptly named Back House – for its location at the back of another house – the brief for the design demanded very little; create a simple, yet beautiful home for a young family, on a small piece of otherwise unusable land.

While the sloping site presented a few challenges in terms of accessibility (with panels having to be crane-lifted in), its angle allowed the striking small home to sit below the main house without obstructing the view. 

To maximise space and comfort, the form of the home was intentionally kept simple. Its rectangular shape allows for service areas to sit along the hallway and sleeping areas. The design then narrows at the north end to a single-width space that stacks kitchen, dining and living areas end on end. 

To make the most of its sunny spot at the end of the garden, the roof of the home reaches up in the living and dining areas, with clerestory glazing to allow morning, midday and then afternoon sun to flood the space. 

The interior of the home features prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. These were used as the construction method to reduce construction time, and form the floor, walls and roof structure. The CLT panels have been left exposed and finished with oil to create a warm and streamlined interior look. 

This clever, compact home demonstrates how thoughtful design really can ensure comfortable and spacious living, even on a tiny footprint!

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