Elmstone House, Auckland - Elegant and Compact Simplicity

Architect Daniel Marshall's brief for this project was to provide a family home on a suburban a site that splays out from the end of a quiet Auckland cul-de-sac and slopes steeply away towards the North. A heavy emphasis was placed on maximising open outdoor areas. 


The strategy adopted was to build a house which took up the smallest possible space on the steep section ensuring ample ground was left for the young children to play on. To achieve this, while still allowing a sense of spaciousness, living areas are arranged vertically over three levels, each with its own distinct outlook toward a garden and pool.

The home is also enclosed beneath a single sloped roof, which allows variation of floor and ceiling levels to individualise the spatial experience throughout.

Marshall recognised early the potential for the use of concrete; "The owners are a young, educated and sophisticated couple, so I knew we could use materials that were not necessarily suburban, but put them together in a way that created a great family environment."

Precast concrete walls and simple concrete floors play against the sophisticated yet subtle detailing of more traditional residential finishes. The placement of exposed concrete elements within the home contributes to a thermal mass that absorbs the heat from plentiful northern and eastern sun.

This combination of concrete's thermal mass, along with appropriate levels of glazing and insulation, as well as correct site orientation, help regulate internal temperature fluctuations, to provide a healthy, comfortable and energy efficient internal living environment.

Social and economic efficiency are achieved through the use of precast concrete elements, which allowed for rapid construction on-site, and a durable family home such as this through being a robust, low maintenance material, while also offering enhanced fire resistance and acoustic separation.

The natural textures of concrete provide an open interior configuration with unique light qualities for the family’s enjoyment.

Winner of the Excellence in Residential Concrete Construction Award at the 2011 Concrete3 Sustainability Awards.

Daniel Marshall Architects - www.marshall-architect.co.nz. Images: Emily Andrews

Article reproduced from CCANZ Concrete magazine