Studio House Outside

Studio House


William Samuels / William Samuels Architects

1. Residential design award for single family dwelling

Photographed by: 
Simon Devitt

The Studio House is a compact single bedroom home located in Nelson, New Zealand, and is an exploration of living small, affordably and sustainably. The house was built on a very limited budget of $150,000, with construction being undertaken by the owners.

The home is built on leasehold land and therefore needs to be relocatable to allow it to move to a different site in the future. Two primary modules make up the form of the building, with additional modules able to be added in the future as circumstances require. At only 42m2 the house is small, but utilises a clever arrangement of spaces to give the feeling of much a much larger space.

To maximise the volume of the home the modules have high ceilings which have been created with a gently curving barrel vault. This creates a seamless internal and external skin, which extends from floor level on one side, over the ceiling and down the other wall in a single gesture.

Internally we chose to line the walls and ceiling with 9mm rimu T&G lining boards to create a sense of warmth and comfort to the interior. The 9mm boards have enough flexibility at the joint to conform to the curve of the barrel vault, allowing us to use the same material on the flat and curved surfaces. The lines of the boards are intended to draw the eye to the large curved windows at either end of the ceiling, which have been installed without reveals so that they appear to be openings in the top of the walls.

Rimu was used for other aspects of the project such as the exposed structure of the loft, shelving and detailing. The other primary material used internally is a moisture resistant black MDF, which has been used as a wall lining, desk, cupboards and for the kitchen bench and cabinetry. Using the black MDF allowed for an extremely affordable kitchen that the owners could construct themselves. The fact that the colour is continuous through the material means that no edge banding is required and the construction is simplified. A clear coat was applied to the MDF in the kitchen and wet areas for additional durability.

The result is an extremely comfortable, calm and cosy space to occupy. This is due in a large part to the material selections, with the rimu and black MDF providing a warm and inviting internal space- which is at the heart of what we look for in a home.

The feeling of warmth and invitation is most apparent from the outside, particularly in the evenings, where the internal timber glows through the high level windows.

Though small, the Studio House attempts to tackle some big ideas. As an exploration of an affordable path to home ownership, a more sustainable approach to building and a testament to the liveability of smaller spaces, the house serves as a model for an alternate mode of living and as a radical departure in how we think about ‘home.’