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An Uncompromising Auckland Family Home On A 42 Square Metre Footprint

Architecture

The work of architect Oli Booth considers how existing suburbs can cater for more people, while still achieving considered, functional, and beautiful family spaces.

It was this question that drove that creation of his own family home, Lightly Weighted, located in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

Oli designed the robust two-storey home concealing thoughtful spaces on a mere 42 square metre footprint. The environment is folded into the property through carefully inserted skylights, slide away windows framing optimal views, and ever changing shadows created by the fluted concrete facade.

16th December, 2022

Lightly Weighted by Oli Booth Architecture. Photography – Sam Hartnett

Oli designed the robust two-storey home concealing thoughtful spaces on a mere 42 square metre footprint. Photography – Sam Hartnett

Locally sourced Totara timber  lines the walls, while also serving a functional purpose to conceal kitchen cabinetry, coat cupboards, wardrobes and a laundry. Photography – Sam Hartnett

The decision was made early on to keep the footprint small and the quality high to try to emphasise how smaller spaces can feel equally as generous as their larger selves. Photography – Sam Hartnett

‘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.’ Photography – Sam Hartnett

The environment is folded into the home and therefore celebrated in different ways through the spaces created. Photography – Sam Hartnett

The modest two-bedroom home feels removed and transportive, despite being embedded among residences in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn. Photography – Sam Hartnett

The lower storey is set within the native vegetation and feels completely removed from its urban environment. Photography – Sam Hartnett

Oli’s favourite element of the project is the interplay of light throughout the house during the day. Photography – Sam Hartnett

Ideas of retreat and seclusion sculpt a highly detailed and concealed refuge. Photography – Sam Hartnett

Timber continues into the bathroom. Photography – Sam Hartnett

The sunny main bedroom. Photography – Sam Hartnett

The stone kitchen bench is raised on a plinth to create an anchor to the space – designed as a piece of furniture. Photography – Sam Hartnett

Fluted concrete panels on the exterior establish a protective shell that envelops the home and protects the expansive views within. Photography – Sam Hartnett

Amelia Barnes
Friday 16th December 2022

‘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.’ – Oli Booth

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.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net