Johnstone Callaghan Architects 2 Triptych

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    Mike Callaghan, Prue Johnstone
  • Kaitautoko / Contributor
    Sam Hartnett (photographer)

Triptych is a home for a young family. The brief called for an environmentally conscious, site specific and flexible design, providing a variety of indoor and outdoor living spaces. The home was not to be oversized and be positioned on the complex site to maximise the landscape potential.

The sloping hill site is accessed from a steep private right of way shared with 5 other properties. The site, trapezoidal in shape, has a narrow boundary against a road to the east resulting in a larger boundary building setbacks. The design response was to break the home up into 3 forms, each stepping up and across on the site responding to the topography and other site constraints, informing the quarter-pyramid roof shape. This enables all forms of the home to fit within the permitted building envelope and to ensure sunlight and outlook to adjacent homes are retained.

Triptych unfolds over 3 levels sitting above the garage plinth, each level offering a sense of reveal and function whilst feeling connected, intimate and spacious. The lower level of each of the 3 stepped forms follow the topography of the site with access to outdoor spaces. The home offers multiple areas for the family to occupy; a large family living room with reading nook, a window seat at the end of the first flight of stairs, a landing space alongside the children’s bedrooms with its use evolving over time to suit the children’s ages and changing needs. The main bedroom and study have an open connection to this area.

Garage is located on the lower level, up to Level 1 with main entry, living, kitchen and dining opening out onto the outdoor living patio and lawn, Level 2 with bedroom opening onto private patio, bathroom and laundry opening onto services area then continues with landing and children’s bedrooms, and Level 3 housing the main bedroom, dressing, ensuite and study.

Consideration was given to construction materials; primarily timber framing, with additional detailing to minimise thermal breaks and timber overuse, blockwork used for integrated stepped retaining levels of the home, exposed honestly both externally and internally, wide tray coloursteel cladding and roofing used for the majority of the external envelope, locally site measured and fabricated to for carbon efficiencies and purposefully low-maintenance on a tricky hill site.

Triptych is an environmentally conscious design; including retaining excavated fill on site to form landscape areas, reduced building footprint (only 15% of site) with multi level construction, permeable paving for drive and outdoor service areas, locally fabricated cladding/ roofing, narrow building width allowing for natural cross ventilation, stacked & connected building forms provides a stack effect for heating with a single ultra low emission wood burner, air filtration system, above code for thermal envelope requirements and solar hot water & solar power.

Triptych is a responsive design to a complex site, environmental considerations and a restricted budget to meet the needs of a young family now whilst being able to evolve with the changing needs of a growing family.