Urban Living

Urban Living add

The trend for homes in our urban areas is definitely small and compact, with many opting for apartment-style living, and others favouring small houses in the inner city over big houses in the suburbs.

This week Defign looks at a unique studio unit in Auckland’s Mount Eden, and speaks to its designer, Mark McLeay who is a professional member of ADNZ.

Mark started his Auckland practice Creative Arch in 1998. It went on to become a multi-disciplined business that regularly wins ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards. Mark and his team a responsible for the design of a range of projects around New Zealand including 'Studio on Newton'.

Despite being built 12 years ago, Studio on Newton has proven to be a timeless design - with its unique appearance and modern features allowing it to remain a structure that captures attention.

The idea was to add a self-contained studio to existing commercial premises. The client wanted a separate studio on top of his workshop that would also maintain the integrity of the building.

"It was a live-work arrangement and we wanted to try and maintain the existing structure as much as possible, with little interruption to the client’s business as well," says Mark.

The solution was to have the studio perched on top of the existing building.

"We decided to use four steel portal 'spider legs' to straddle the structure. It was about creating some interest, the client was open to something a bit more dramatic, so we also had tapering walls and a butterfly roof. It's resulted in a design that both stands out and fulfils its requirements."

The 'spider legs' are supported by the existing in-situ concrete post and beam structure. However, this meant a structural upgrade was necessary, so the existing footings and steel plates bolted to the beams were made larger.

One of Mark's favourite aspects of this design is the spiral staircase at the front of the studio.

"It's quite a sculptural part of the building which links the studio to the workshop. It contrasts nicely against the straight lineal forms of the building. To me, the spiral staircase is a living element that’s always evolving."

Inside, steel is used for the main frames, with recycled tallowood from telegraph poles on the floors. This has been billed and laminated together, with tensioned steel rods running through it to allow it to become self-supporting. Refrigeration panels on the roof make for a thermal, cost-effective roofing product, along with plywood underneath for noise reduction and extra bracing. The sky lights are a nice touch, bringing natural light into the area.

"We also used linear weather boards, which we chose because they work in quite well with an apartment block a few doors down. It was important to be able to bring some of the elements from the area into the building."

The design also makes good use of colour. A good neutral palette is contrasted by black steel portals, and splashes of aqua and red which are complemented by wooden features throughout.

Mark says it's a design he thoroughly enjoyed working on. He has been pleased by the positive feedback it has received, including an ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Award in 2010. He's been a member of ADNZ for 13 years, and says he loves the comradery promoted by the organisation.

"It's great having the ability to share with other members and call upon them for advice in an environment that’s open and receptive."

ADNZ makes keeping on top of business practices manageable, producing high quality business templates and contractual documents for member use. ADNZ members are at the forefront of architectural design in New Zealand, and the organisation actively promotes its members through its established social media channels. The highly coveted annual Architectural Design Awards provide an excellent platform for exposure to the market, as well as valuable media attention. ADNZ also ensures its members have access to support and advice when they need it, along with an online CPD record, ADNZ online Chat, regularly updated terms of engagement and other must-have documentation.

For more on Mark McLeay, you can check out his ADNZ profile