The site of architect Oli Booth’s home shared with partner Libby Elmore and their one-year-old son was previously a backyard.
Recognising the need for further densification of established suburbs, the family set about creating their own home on the subdivided, compact block in Grey Lynn, Auckland.
‘If we can address scale, not as a compromise, but as an opportunity, it is possible to create urban homes that feel generous and connected, whilst occupying a small footprint,’ says Oli.
The completed house, Lightly Weighted, is an example of this philosophy. Oli and Libby designed the home to sit on a mere 42 square metre footprint covering 85 square metres internally across two storeys.
The upper storey embraces its surroundings with floor-to-ceiling windows that capture leafy views, while the lower storey is set within the native vegetation and feels completely removed from its urban environment.
‘Due to site restraints, we were unable to have a deck on the south western corner of the house where the main outlook is,’ explains Oli. ‘So, we decided to create the feeling of being outside by completely opening up the whole corner of the house here so you have the sense of complete openness and interaction with the outside environment.’
With the primary focus of the house being away from the sun, a 4.2-metre long ‘slot’ was inserted at the apex of the roof, directing light deep into the living spaces.
Fluted concrete panels on the exterior establish a protective shell that envelops the home and protects the expansive views within. ‘The intent was to create a monolithic facade which seemed robust at a distance, but delicate and intricate on approach,’ says Oli.
The success of the project overcomes the mindset that densification poses a threat to neighbourhood character. As Oli says, ‘Lightly Weighted challenges this mindset and offers an insight to how we can enhance our surroundings and improve our quality of life.’
The modest two-bedroom home feels removed and transportive, despite being embedded among residences in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn.