Against the grain

Against the grain add

Four one-bedroom apartments on a 405sqm site in the inner city could conjure an image of tiny, cramped, joyless spaces where the need to maximise the potential of a site has won out over creating quality, liveable homes. But once you clap your eyes on the latest development designed by Greg Young of Young Architects in Christchurch, you will see how comfortable and engaging small apartment living can be. You will also never drive by a challenging small site without seeing its true potential again.

A contemporary triple gable design, the townhouses have been clad in black Colorsteel tray, with recessed areas clad in plywood. The two ground floor apartments are 60sqm each, while the first-floor dwellings are slightly larger at 74sqm. The lower apartments have courtyards, while the upper apartments have attention grabbing balconies, set back to give the lower courtyards a degree of privacy.

The balconies are a focal point of the design and are lined with plywood giving them an almost golden presence against the black cladding.

Greg Young says the plywood was chosen strategically to soften the aesthetic.

“The use of plywood certainly makes the spaces more inviting, while the black tray forms a low maintenance protective skin to the building. For the interiors of the townhouses, a balance of timber and plasterboard was selected. The interiors give a balance with aesthetics and cost, while also providing a relatively neutral palette for future owners to put their own stamp on,” says Greg.

With every aspect of the design carefully considered, these apartments have a different vibe to many of the standard apartments popping up in Christchurch’s inner city. The use of good quality materials in their construction is obvious from the outset and the development naturally engages with the streetscape. They’re also of an appropriate scale and form for the sub urban environment they’re situated in. Importantly the challenges that came with the small site are not apparent and have not compromised the project.

“There are many design challenges that come with smaller sites. With the form, not creating recession plane aesthetics. With the function, the need to balance the commercial requirements with spaces that work well. In addition, the ground conditions were less than desirable, so keeping the building lightweight was important so that costs on ground improvement and foundations could be kept down. These apartments demonstrate that you can design and build quality architecture on a difficult site, and still produce competitively priced and affordable apartments,” says Greg.

The Hereford Street apartments have been such a popular project at the Young architecture firm, a member of Greg’s team has purchased one of the units. If that’s not a stamp of approval, we don’t know what is.

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Images by Dennis Radermacher of Lightforge Photography.