Winton Street

A former lecturer in politics at the University of Canterbury, Austin Mitchell wrote about New Zealand in his book “The Half Gallon Quarter Acre Pavlova Paradise” and this perception of residential space would certainly have been appropriate for Christchurch where dwellings are – until recently - commonly on land in excess of 1000m2

Not so today in the garden city, where urban intensification in the residential sector has seen large sites with single level dwellings now living alongside clusters of new town houses. In fact, urban housing intensification has become a hot topic in Christchurch – and elsewhere - as many feel the new rules threaten some of the city’s unique heritage dwellings. 

A site in Winton Street, St Albans was the second collaboration by Woods with developer Andrew Mitchell following the successful development of eight townhouses in Manchester Street which replaced three existing houses resulting in a successful design that would form the template for the Winton Street, St Albans project. 

Two modest single-storey houses occupied the 1350m2 site and provided a prime opportunity for urban intensification. Three of the new homes are 190m2 and the fourth a slightly larger 200m2 – all new builds substantially larger than the existing homes.

The design featured four connected houses running north up the site from the south-east street boundary. Locating the driveway access on the east side of the site allowed the first three houses to have west-facing outdoor courtyards with direct access from living areas to optimize afternoon, outdoor living. 

The three units have front doors facing the driveway opening to east-facing kitchens with morning sun and an open-plan dining/living area.  A central stair provides central access to the four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the first floor. 

Roof and wall cladding

The steep-roofed main house forms are defined by the main cladding material comprising a mix of lightweight, white-plastered Integra panels, contrasting with the dark, vertical metal cladding on the secondary forms which feature Metalcraft Roofing Espan 470 – chosen for its clean lines and broad pan affording pleasing shadow lines. Espan 340 is also used for roofing on all four units – providing a strong shadow line due to the 50mm vertical fin and the wide flat tray which looks similar to the more expensive standing-seam profile.

The three front townhouses, while connected at the garages on the ground floor are stepped back in box-like cantilevered forms on the upper floor to provide high level windows to provide additional light and acoustic separation between adjoining bedroom units. 

When it comes to the fourth unit at the rear of the site is slightly larger and features both west and north outdoor living.  This home is wider across the site than the three front units.  The front door and garage are visible from the drive and a first-floor bathroom above the garage has a high-level triangular window in the gable end which provides privacy to the bathroom with a high level of natural light. 

Statistics New Zealand reports 8,556 residential dwellings consented in Canterbury for the year ending July 2022 – a 26% increase on the previous 12 months.