A flat, open plain on the outskirts of Cambridge provides an unrestrictive site for this flexible, 2-4 bedroom residence. In order to provide a sheltered space within this open environment, a simple structure is laid out across a concrete floor slab, which is raised slightly above the level of the adjacent ground. This structure consists of a plain, exposed timber post and beam frame, and a thick wall which wraps around the southern perimeter. This wall both thermally protects the interior from the south and focuses one's view to the north—towards a nearby mountain range.
On the north, east and western elevations, a combination of fixed and sliding glazing is arranged to provide easy visual and physical connection with the lawn and outdoor living areas. Practically, this glazing allows penetration of sunlight deep into the interior during winter, warming the concrete floor slab and thus passively heating the internal spaces. Conversely, during summer, the interior is shaded by the overhanging roofing, allowing the slab to keep the internal spaces cool.
The primary structural elements—concrete, white plaster and timber—are plain in appearance. Concrete is used only on the floor plane. White plaster is used on both the thick, external walls and on a number of internal volumes. Timber is used on the posts, beams, internal volumes and to form the floor and walls of the loft. The various volumes enclose either private rooms or concealed storage, and the arrangement of these volumes provides dynamic, open-plan spaces in between.
The house allows for spacious occupation by a young couple and child initially, with two bedrooms downstairs and a large study upstairs. In the future, the upper floor can be reconfigured to provide two single bedrooms and a smaller study—comfortably housing a family of five.
Plain House, Cambridge, New Zealand