Starter Homes

The results have come back, but I haven’t seen much comment yet – so why don’t we start it off? The Department of Building and Housing, when under Shane Jones as a Minister, kicked off a competition to design a small scale affordable home. The competition requirements were quite stringent – not much room for imagination or flair, especially when faced with a very tight budget. Certainly no room for show ponies here. According to the DBH there were 140 entries, and this was whittled down to a few key finalists.


Stephen Smith‘s design from S3 Architects clinched the Supreme prize: namely that it will be built (in Mangere, Auckland). While the 3d image doesn’t give much away, and indeed is a little ungainly, the plan is a little more forthcoming as to perhaps why it won:


As a starter home should be, it’s a pretty simple plan, centred around a courtyard that allows simple enlargement for bigger family events. I’m surprised that there are two bathrooms, and a separate laundry as well, which I wouldn’t have thought would be possible under the tiny budget. If we contrast that with the second place getter,


from Tony Koia design, his image looks very Urbis-able, although his plan is too small to see much:  

All we can really make out is that the roof is a very simple hip, and there is a large living / porch out front, with just the one bathroom. Both are good efforts, and seem to have a pacifica flavour with the indoor outdoor planning. There is a bit of information on all the finalists here on the DBH website, and a good amount of further info about the winning designs: in category 1 here, category 2 here and highly commended here.

But the whole competition and subsequent published winners leave me cold: I really don’t believe that there is a need for yet another suburban standalone house type in New Zealand. Auckland especially just doesn’t get it: suburbia and ‘detached’ houses are such an incredibly wasteful and profligate use of our resources, and encouraging them only makes it worse. 

What we need to see is a series of medium density housing being built, with people living cheek to cheek, and all the issues ironed out. Auckland and Wellington’s efforts with tiny urban apartments aren’t the way to go, nor are these suburban dinosaurs. We need clever thinking if we’re going to prosper.



One response to “Starter Homes”

  1. That second one looks wildly inappropriate for most NZ climates… and with all that glazing I can imagine the reemergence of curtain-netting as an item of fashion decor – either that or obscenely high fencing which will only serve to make our neighbourhoods look even ruder than they do today…

    And isn’t Chch investigating flyover camera technology to assist with identifying houses with excessive heat-loss – a suburb of these faux Farnsworth beauties will surely look purdy from up there…

    It is great though, how it hits the average NZ family statistic perfectly – there is a double bedroom for each average family member, and even a tiny room in the bottom left corner form average family member 0.6…

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