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Khandallah Infill

Completion : August 2014

Contractor: David Reid Homes Wellington

Designed using a simple palette of forms and materials the home achieves a striking streetscape and unusual carved out internal spaces.  Two volumes were uses - a black zinc main body, which is wrapped on three sides with a cedar-clad form - creating exciting and unusual elevations and internal spaces. The planning is organised around a long circulation stairway travelling from the generous street level entry void up through three floors, culminating in a quiet reading space that opens to the another double height void opening to the rear yard.  The homes functions are organised in succession from public to private through this lineal circulation space.  The main living area is facing the north sun with an outdoor courtyard area well placed to make both an excellent entertaining area, and make good use of passive thermal gain.  From this level, a study space is projected toward the pavement, while more private bedroom spaces inhabit the upper levels and overlook the site.

On the exterior, Euroline cladding are contrasted against the texture of cedar and honed block. The interior uses timber floors and steel staircase juxtaposed against the vertical timber screens, visual connecting the circulation through the living spaces.  Daylight at the top of the stairs filters down to the elegant kitchen below where a butler’s pantry is hidden within the honed block wall.  The living then flows to the outdoors where terraced and well landscaped spaces creates a liveable extension to the home.

Nic Ballara realised this commission as Project Architect while a director at bbc architects <>.  

Karaka Bays

Karaka Bays Infill

Completion : March 2013

Contractor : Steve Wooller Builders

Sited above the stunning Wellington harbour entrance, this project was originally to build a new dwelling to the upper portion of the site, and provide access to a newly created plot to the rear. Draconian planning regulations meant that rather than a new-build, the end result involved a 50/50 new build and alteration where the existing building envelope had to remain. Despite this, and further constraints of driveway access to the north, and strict height-plane envelopes from the south, the west-facing streetscape presents a cohesive design using a palette and forms that avoid highlighting the requirements. horizontal forms of garage, decking and open plan living space above fold into the raised vertical euroline-clad upper-level. In this way the house offers the streetscape new building forms and materials that complement its established suburban setting without assuming the cliche modernism-by-numbers aesthetic so often seen in similar developments.

Nic Ballara realised this commission as Project Architect while a director at bbc architects <>.  


Northland Road Infill

Completion: July 2005

Contractor: Southcoast Construction

The small site on a steep piece of Wellington’s inner suburbs was subdivided in 1903 but never built on as the property consisted of a tiny 141 square metre plot between a 20+ metre vertical drop between two roads.  The challenging brief was to design a home that was to include three bedrooms, two bathrooms, study and open plan living with two living areas, dining & kitchen but with a spacious, generous feel. District Plan requirements only allowed a 60 sq metre footprint, meaning that the proposed house needed to be on 3 levels to achieve the brief.  The house is designed around a simple rendered-plaster box laid horizontally and cut into the contour, intersected by a vertical weatherboard clad atrium form that connects the floors with circulation.   

Light and dark exterior colours define this intersection, which also connects the interior  (through a central stairwell core) giving an otherwise small house a feeling of generous space. The architecture is then characterized by large windows, and interconnecting spaces that visually open up the central living space to appear spacious and achieves interest and richness.  The plan starts with the entrance (or second living  / guest bed)  to the top level, where the user is taken through a central atrium descending three floors, first via a floating timber stair way to the middle living level, then to the generous lower floor hallway servicing the bathrooms, laundry and 3 bedrooms. Careful planning achieves flexibility by the use of sliding partitions, and wide hallways often giving users more than one use for each space.

Balaena Bay

Balaena Bay Infill

Completion : June 2005

This tiny 179 square metre plot of land, recently subdivided front lot was a challenge to design a home on. The brief called for a lot of home; a 2-bed, 2-bath, 2-living, 2 car plus study contemporary home at a high specification for a high-end market. Add to that the very restrictive residential planning rule constraints to tricky height planes, building heights and site coverage coupled with the complex and steep terrain and we were in our element. The house form is a simple stepped white board and batten box, where polished concrete blocks and hardwood vertical timber screens and balustrades are offset against an equally restrained interior colour palette.

Inside the houses volume has been exaggerated by hollowing out 3D void spaces over the kitchen and through the stairwells that offer long glimpses through the interior, both up through the floors, and outside onto the decks and out to the harbour views below. Large floor to ceiling window openings accentuate the feeling of space, and highlight the views below. Thoughtful lighting transforms the exterior by night, and creates interest through the interior volumes by highlighting the views through the levels. Even where uncooperative neighbours forces the form to be moulded to comply with the height planes the exterior form creates a feature shower wall inside, with a deliberate designed feel to the house as a result. Despite the size and the constraints this townhouse has both achieved value for the developer and practicality, space, privacy and amenity for the tenant, and is a great addition to its neighbourhood.

Island Bay

Island Bay Infill
Completion: September 2003

Contractor: Southcoast Construction

The site is a rear lot behind an existing house, near the south coast of Wellington in Island Bay, which has an elevated outlook north over the suburb towards the city. The project was to build a stand-alone townhouse on the site, as a second dwelling, for which resource Consent was needed. The dwelling has a footprint of only 41.5 square metres, but still required two bedrooms, a study, two bathrooms and open plan living with outdoor living to the north.


Spaciousness is achieved by a void to the centre of the plan extending to full two storeys in height, while open tread stairs and extensive use of exterior patio spaces with open-able walls add to this effect. The simple form of the exterior clad in Weatherboard and iron, both accentuates a clean modern look and helped to keep build costs low.


Otahuhu Multiunit

Completion : March 2003

This project involved reconfiguring an existing Housing New Zealand Corporation site in Auckland to facilitate greater safety, and living conditions for the tenants of the site. After generating a variety of possible outcomes for HNZC, bbc architects were then asked to further develop one option which reconfigures the existing 71 apartments into 38 apartments.  


The conceptual approach towards the accommodation was to increase the number of families on the site, and to foster community development through providing more common space and breaking the buildings down into smaller living clusters served by a common stairwell. The outdoor space has also been more programmed and has a higher intensity of landscaping to create both private and public areas for outdoor habitation. This project has already required consultation with a variety of consultants and provides bbc architects with the opportunity to use further the desire to utilise architecture to impact social housing.

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