John Mills Architects

Hill Top Home

Wellington sites on which  to build a new home, are few and far between, this one was on the last section to be built upon within a recently established hillside suburb. The land had not been particularly well maintained and had become home to a variety of wild self-seeding plant life which seemed to breathe fresh air into the otherwise built upon and hard sealed landscape. With a limited budget and and extreme wind conditions to contend with , we elected to work with a combination of two simple gable forms that contrasted wiht the plethora of mini McMansions that have sprouted up in the surrounding landscape.These two primary forms are twisted and then melded together by the low level linkway/entry. Here we have placed two boulders that visually identify the way in, as well as also rhetorically holding the roof down! The main body of this house has been oriented to face into Wellington Harbour and lowered into the surrounding land offering protection from local winds and also thereby creating a series north facing sunken courtyards, off the family-kitchen area. The design has a roughly-polished rural flavour to resonate with the sense of the site being in an outpost of suburbia. Rough sawn and stained exterior cladding timbers float above an almost fully glazed ground floor. The landscape is not sealed and comes complete with a planted Gobi block driveway and forecourt. The family of three are housed cosily upstairs within the main gable, in  almost tent like spaces. The ground floor, which accommodates the kitchen and living areas is anchored  in the terrain. A strong sense or natural light was requested, so exterior walls here,  are at the minimum the engineer could live with. The landscape is visually brought into the interior to accentuate the limited sense of horizontality on this hill- top site. We have kept the colours robust and graphic to recognise the surrounding active environment. Inside the clear daylight washes over selected feature walls that define the varies angles and spaces. Outside there is a nod to the Wellington’s  livery, with the rain screen flashing a gold splash behing the black rain screen as one walks around the home. Interior colours are also often seen through hand patterned sandblasted glazing, which also add to a veiled sense of privacy.