Forty Five Degree
Completion November 2015
Contractor: PLS Consulting
The ‘45 degree house’ featured in the inaugural Grand Design NZ as episode 5. The site was a challenging left-over 45-degree piece of land with stunning post-card views over Wellington, and offered no simple design solution or build platform to work from. But proximity to the CBD caught the client’s attention as a possible prototype to overcome urban sprawl. Cautioned against large earthworks or a footprint that extended too far from the roadway, the solution was to take flat-house typology, and tip it on edge. A gravity-defying structural system of rock anchored vertical concrete and prefabricated steel frame tensioned by cables abseils down the cliff, creating the virtual backpack that the house inhabits. A limited colour palette and simple detailing adorns the unique house interior of angular open floors over four levels, and opportunities such as permeable hanging nets as barriers, and a glass-faced lift running up and down against spine from which it hangs, further exploit the tenuous hanging nature.
At the conclusion of our Grand Design episode, Chris Moller called our project a protoype. However hill-sites cannot be developed inside Wellington’s tight planning rules, dreamt up by planners for flat cities. Rules protecting light and amenity between neighbours don’t account for the vertical distance between hill sites, already supplying sunlight and privacy. When the architect breaks the rules, the Council expects us to talk to neighbours, but no neighbour signs consent forms… would you? So the developers go straight to the Council with expensive reports to prove no one is affected. The resulting resource consent process inside Council contributes no added value, proven ultimately by our unchanged designs - but still costing clients valuable time and money. Pōneke believe that our Councils need to interpret the RMA differently if we are going to solve the supply of land available for development close to Wellington city.