Paul King | Freelance Architect

Whitby House


Project: Concept for 4 Bedroom house on an ‘unbuildable’ site, Whitby, Porirua

Client: Stellar Pacific Ltd

The developer client had an option on some very cheap but very steep and geologically unstable land that had been lying vacant since the suburb was established many years earlier, and our brief was to prove that something reasonably upmarket and  ‘Mediterranean looking’ could be done with it. The site was a damp and gloomy gully dropping down from the road, that for most part was too step to even walk on unaided.

Use of large scale retaining walls to form a building platform was quickly ruled out as hugely cost prohibitive and aesthetically insensitive to the site.  Equally, with conventional pole framed construction, a large house would present a huge ugly underside to the lush site (and neighbours) below, and create a strong visual and functional disconnect with the site.

Instead we envisaged inhabiting a series of three cheerfully Post Modern towers extending down through the trees. The tower forms would themselves act to stabilize the hillside behind, yet allow the natural ground water flows to seep around and between them. They would allow us to introduce a bit of spatial drama; with double height gallery space connecting the three, with framed views between out over the Pautatahanui Inlet beyond, and give the occupants a sense of Mediterranean hill town intimacy of scale and crafted engagement with the terrain.  The architectural styling (and image rendering quality) are certainly quite dated now, and sadly neither the scheme nor the developer survived the recession of the early 2000’s … but we had some fun…