Design Review: Volume 5, Issue 2 (May-June 1953)
A House in Upper Hutt
A House in Upper Hutt
“Immediately upon entering this house,” the owner writes, “you become aware that it is not designed on conventional lines …”
We agree, but what interests us about it is the degree to which it departs from the normal within the conventions of standard building practice. Its siting and internal arrangement show how much can be done with these normal building methods on an ordinary flat section whose only features before hand were some trees at each end boundary.
“Our particular requirements,” continues the owner, “were that the house should be convenient enough to enable us both to continue working, that the layout should provide the maximum sunshine and privacy and the benefits of such aspect as the flat section would provide, and finally, that the limit of about 1000 square feet which our budget allowed would not create the cramped feeling generally associated with houses of this size. We drew several rough sketches, formulated a number of ideas, and these in turn convinced us that we would have to have them co-ordinated by an architect to get the kind of home we wanted. Now, after two years of living and working in this house, we find it most adaptable and fully up to our expectations.
From the plan it will be seen that the kitchen faces the street over the equivalent of the ‘back garden’. Ahead, as you enter, is the living room which looks toward the rear of the section, in this case the main lawn and flower garden. Facing west, this room has floor to ceiling windows and a glazed door leading to the outdoors. A wide seat has been built against the house outside these windows extending the living-room further toward the terrace.
“One end of the living-room is divided off for dining by the free standing fireplace and chimney, linked only to the interior wall by a door height fitting. This partial division creating a greater sense of space than the actual dimensions would suggest. A painted alcove on the dining-room side of the fitting is used for china and during meals serves as a buffet; on the other side are china and drink cupboards, a radio and gramophone.
“The kitchen is of the corridor type, and since we believed it would be cheaper and more convenient for us if we dispensed altogether with the conventional laundry, we added a washing machine and a large porcelain sink to the usual kitchen equipment. Above the windows are storage cupboards for preserves, while an open dresser over a wide counter means that china in everyday use is within easy reach.
Off the kitchen, but separated from it, is a small workroom. This also serves as an informal mealroom, children's playroom, even, occasionally, a bedroom. This room has proved invaluable.
“Each of the bedrooms has twin built-in wardrobes, those in the second room acting as insulation between it and the bathroom. In common with the rest of the house, all windows in the bedrooms are fixed, ventilation being provided by means of adjustable glass louvres.”
Roofing, Glass, Hardware and Door Furniture, Paint, Plywood—Smith and Smith Ltd.
Cooper Louvres—C. and A. Odlin Ltd.
Moreo Light Fittings, Electroway Linen Cupboard Heater—N.Z. Lamps Ltd.
Floor and Bench Lino.—D.I.C. Ltd.
Jackson Electric Store—Chas. Begg Ltd.
The living-room and main bedroom face out on to the terrace and the main garden. Use is made of the high floor level to form a seat around the terrace.
The rear of the house can be just as pleasant as the front. A tidy back door and kitchen garden are part of the planning of a house today. No longer the messy backyard of the Victorian era hidden away from the inquisitive eyes but an open yet sheltered space for the children to play in.
There is no wall between the living and dining space except for a low screen linking the fireplace and kitchen wall. In leaving a space between the screen and the ceiling and allowing the windows to continue along the front of the house, the architect has created a feeling of space in an otherwise small area. The living and dining areas are still separated but can at parties be used together as one space.
This map shows our ploughable land. The shaded areas are all that we have to grow our fruit and grain upon. But our population increases and each year more and more land goes under in buildings and roads. Yet land remains our wealth and our security.
Is it to become a wasting asset? John Cox asks this question in his second article and we, as Editors, feel that the issues he raises are vital to all of us.
Photo: National Publicity Studios.