Mandalay Multi-Unit
completion: September 2015

contractor: Captain Construction

The brief was for a 5-dwelling multi-unit development on a previously abandoned 722m2 site in Wellington’s suburb of Khandallah. Restrictive outer residential zoning and substantial incomplete earthworks left a compromised and lowered site overlooked by multi-units three sides; the building platform sat beneath the road with un-retained vertical cuts to the north - “a hole in the ground” as our client described it. We deliberately kept the density lower than adjoining developments in both number of units and building scale, all within two forms. The first three units are located along the street boundary, while the last two units make an infill-dwelling to the rear. This creates an inward-looking project that screens itself from dense neighbouring surrounds, while internally varied floor heights restrict overlooking within the site; perfect for the intended demographic of small family units with non-traditional structure.

The proposed building forms have simple pitches which run along the contours within the site, forming three sides of a defined internal space with a driveway to the last side. Shared open spaces can also be viewed from dwellings providing benefits of informal surveillance. Underground parking means cars do not dominate, and is conveniently accessed internally to the dwellings. The disadvantaged front units (overlooked from neighbouring row housing and street-level visibility) was avoided by provision of private internal courtyards at ground level in the middle of their plans. This allowed private full-height glazing oriented inwards. The remaining two rear units are situated with a lowered form that turns itself deliberately away from neighbours overlooking them. These two simple staggered building forms have a simple colour palette which emphasises visual hierarchy of public and private parts of each unit, and helps to create an integrated cohesive whole.

Nic Ballara realised this commission as Project Architect while a director at bbc architects <https://www.bbcarchitects.co.nz/mandalay>.   

© P┼Źneke Limited 
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