Amidst the hustle and bustle of urban living in Auckland, a small 85-square-metre home stands out for its clever design and big personality. Lightly Weighted by Oli Booth is a prime example of how architectural excellence can be achieved in small-scale, infill housing.
The modest two-bedroom house, located in the suburb of Grey Lynn, demonstrates how quality need not be sacrificed for compact living spaces. The home's exterior is a stunning play of light and shadow, created by a rippling façade that envelops and protects the interior. This design allows for an unparalleled sense of retreat and seclusion, forming a highly detailed and concealed refuge. The house is perched on an elevated position, affording an unobstructed view that makes it feel both removed and transportive, despite being surrounded by other residences.
What sets Lightly Weighted apart is its deft manipulation of building form, which artfully engages with natural light while maintaining privacy. The decision to keep the footprint small, while ensuring the quality is high, emphasises how smaller spaces can be just as generous as their larger counterparts. The home's fluted concrete formwork anchors it to its site, imbuing a sense of permanence that is both elegant and timeless.
The house's courtyard garden, located in the centre of the site, creates a seamless connection between the interior and exterior, celebrating nature in various ways. The intuitive floor plan is designed with restraint and efficiency in mind, with the lower level burrowing into the sloping site to minimise its presence from approach. The bedrooms are restful and set within the native vegetation below, offering a sense of privacy that is rare in urban environments.
The upper level is framed by fluted concrete walls that sit to the north and east, creating an inward-directed focus. Light and shadow are deployed in symbiotic relationship, creating an ever-changing palette that is nothing short of spectacular. Exposed concrete acts as a thermal moderator, while black floors and ceilings compress and absorb light, and Totara timber wall linings provide warmth and consistency. The stone bench, raised on a plinth, creates an anchor to the space and is designed as a piece of furniture.
The house's primary focus is to maximise the use of natural light. The 4.2-metre-long "slot" inserted at the apex of the roof, together with the ceiling space flaring out, encourages sunlight to be directed deeper into the living spaces. The result is a sense of warmth and brightness that makes the home feel welcoming and inviting.