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Winner of HOME magazine 'Home of The Year 2017'

“It’s a house of light and shadow, with layered spaces that are intensely private and happily public. It’s built from the most prosaic of materials…and yet achieves an elegant sort of poetry. When you visit house like this, you can’t wait to go back. And that’s what makes Home of the Year” — Simon Farrell-Green, Editor, HOME Magazine

This project reverses the traditional suburban pattern of a house centred on its site surrounded by empty space; instead, the interior spaces are moved to the outside of the site and the external spaces are moved inside. By doing this the exterior courtyard spaces become internalised and thus an integral part of the open-plan layout of the house.

The interior and exterior spaces are conceived as part of a single open-plan composition in which the spaces for domestic activities (living, sleeping, washing, working) are loosely separated by walls or volumes: the extent of separation being determined by the degree of privacy required. Private bathrooms, for example, are completely enclosed but open to the sky, whereas the design studio is completely open to a courtyard and only partially separated from the living areas.

Structural and cladding materials are plain in appearance and detail, and are similar to those visible on neighbouring buildings. Concrete and plaster are used on the floor and walls and provide a robust and simple appearance. Brick is used to form the wall which wraps around the perimeter of the site, providing an appearance of solidity and a sense of protection from the adjacent public lane and footpath. Corrugated metal roofing clads the top and sides of the roof forms, providing an economical appearance, whilst timber boards clad a number of walls and volumes (storage cupboards, cabinets, bathrooms), providing a soft, warm and crafted appearance.

The house, though small in area, provides a visually spacious home through its appropriation of exterior spaces as interior space. Whilst located within a busy urban environment, it is a home which provides both privacy and openness for its occupants.

Town House, Cambridge, New Zealand
Photography: Jeremy Toth

Christopher Beer Architect
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About the

Christopher Beer Architect Limited is an architectural design studio which delivers carefully-crafted and thoughtfully-designed buildings. Our projects have been recognised with high-level awards, including HOME Magazine’s Home of the Year Award and an NZIA New Zealand Architecture Award for Housing.

As a design practice, we're interested in projects which intrigue and delight. Creating architecture can be a difficult and daunting task, and we aim to guide our clients deftly and carefully through the process using our knowledge of design and our experience in building. We delight in sharing our design skills with our clients to create objects and buildings which are delightful and spaces which are both calming and exciting. Our goal is that each project reflect our client's aspirations and enhance their experience of life and living.

We work on projects of all scales and budgets, in all parts of New Zealand. We’re especially interested in working with clients who have projects that are unique, difficult, intriguing… or just special. We enjoy discussing architecture and encourage anyone contemplating a building project to get in touch.