A sharp small house by Patchwork Architecture floats above a vertiginous Wellington site. We talk to Sally Ogle and Ben Mitchell-Anyon about how they approached this steep site
Q&A with Sally Ogle and Ben Mitchell-Anyon of Patchwork Architecture
This is the third project you’ve done with Adam and Dorset Construction. How important is that relationship?
Sally Ogle— It’s pretty awesome. It makes it a lot easier when you know that person really well and understand how they work, and they understand how you work. We understand Adam’s strengths.
The first decision made for this site was not to dig in too much. Why?
Ben Mitchell-Anyon— We’ve floated it as much as possible. Retaining is really expensive, and once you’re on a steep site, you often need to get into rock anchors and that sort of thing. The civil engineering side of things gets horrendous and when you walk into a house, you don’t see $100,000 worth of anchors holding it to the hill. So this really only has the concrete core, which is half dug into the ground, and the box itself is on poles. SO— In some ways it’s similar to a commercial construction where the core is doing all the work.
The exterior is silver anodised aluminium sheets, the same product as the windows and doors. Why have you used it?
BMA— It’s coastal so we had to think about corrosion, and it’s about reading the exterior of the building as a cohesive whole. SO— Also, the house is obviously quite complex because of the site, so we tried to simplify the rest of the design, at least visually. Otherwise, it becomes overly complicated. BMA— And Adam is really into things being sharp and accurate and correct with lots of clean lines – no fiddly bits.
When building on a hill, the hypothetical envelope becomes quite difficult to comply with. How did you do it?
BMA— We learned that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If we had been more compliant and just got the tick, we wouldn’t have been able to do this at all.
See more of the Wellington home below
Words by: Greg Dixon. Photography by: Simon Wilson.