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Surprising & Smart

There is nothing so gripping as a mystery slowly revealed and that is what you get with this surprising and smart Marama Crescent home, designed by Ben Brady of Linetype Architecture and built by Dean Harrison from H3 Builders.



At street level, the observer sees the garage and entry way, angular and facetted in stack bond concrete block.

Those who make it across the threshold then see the home expand into the courtyard downstairs, with a stimulating range of spaces and orientations.

The sloping site generated three levels: entry, down to main living and master bedroom, down to two further bedrooms on the lowest level.

Extensive glazing provides sight-lines through the building to capture views of the city around to the Kaikoura Ranges, from that vantage.

Large windows frame the vistas from each room while clerestory glazing above the living room captures light.

With easy care in mind, the owners sought low maintenance and solidity, choosing cladding in powder coated aluminium in Bronco and Canvas Cloth, with colourfast timber composite Innowood.

They also briefed a concrete floor to provide solidity, building performance and heat, but this required a robust structure involving plenty of steel with panels underneath, designed by Ben.

“There are almost as many structural drawings as architectural drawings for the house,” he says.

Connected yet separate spaces are a feature, as is a blurred concept of inside and out.

Concrete block is used inside as interior pillars, and an off-form concrete beam plus the courtyard extend in to support the top-level landing.

Vaulted stagger patterned poplar plywood ceiling, in the living areas connect them to the upper level.

Ben found Dean impressive to work with. “He needed very few calls to get his head around the structure. He is so enthusiastic, with high standards and close attention paid to sequencing.”

Dean says, “We loved the build complexity: angles, three-storeys and the sheer variety of elements, which included exposed insitu concrete beams, honed concrete blocks, pre-finished cladding and timber ceiling.”

Hands-on every day from shovelling mud, to project management, Dean loves the challenge of a hill site.

“Ben’s plans were great and he is easy to work with: always ready to discuss ideas and solutions. The enjoyable challenge created a really great house.”


Approaching alterations: Linetype Architectural

Having recently received a National Award at the 2019 ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Awards in the Additions and Alterations Category, I thought it timely to share a few thoughts on my approach to altering houses. Often there is already a good amount of dollar value in the existing house, so one needs to be careful and pragmatic about where and how to spend any money on it.




I like to explore the ways in which the house is currently working, both aesthetically and functionally. To love what is there avoids a fight to change it into something it is not. A 1950’s bungalow, unless a lot of money is spent, will always look like a 1950’s bungalow.

Commonly, a house has been altered in the past and it is first an exercise in restoring logic. Why is there a porch halfway down the corridor when the entrance is now through the living area? Sometimes it is a very simple case of relocating a couple of doors and internal partitions to make a major difference. The aspiration, once work is complete, should be to have the house feel like it was always meant to be that way.

When looking at any new requirements, the house needs to deliver for its occupants, so my first study is where these needs can be accommodated within the building footprint. If possible, major cost can be avoided by redistributing spaces within the house. If there is a need to push out, do it carefully so that it complements the existing house.


By Linetype Architectural Architect Ben Brady




Affordability and the culture trap: Linetype Architectural

When it comes to houses, there are certain ergonomic features that make a space function, but it’s hard to argue for a need when spaces get larger than necessity dictates. However, strip a design back to necessity and we might be disappointed with what we are presented.




Therefore, it’s important to recognise we have cultural values overlying some basic needs that tell us when a space is adequate or not. I suspect that growing up in a colony, where land was once cheap and stretching one’s legs caused no harm, has bequeathed a luxurious expectation of space that is hard to extinguish. Of the prince and the pauper, the pauper seemed to have it good, but when life is going in the other direction, it causes much more angst.

This kind of lifestyle has gone unchallenged for several generations but is increasingly coming under scrutiny: climate change; urban sprawl; affordability. If I’m honest, I struggle with an internal conflict that recognises these factors but still wants a generosity of space.

Perhaps it is just a matter of me, and New Zealand culture, naturally growing up from that colonist mentality. Commute distances will cause us to value the density of cities and that value will supersede the one of space. The trouble is that the process doesn’t happen uniformly. Plus it happens slowly, and time is not on our side. The temptation may always be there to look to your neighbour with twice as much space. If you are building, challenge yourself. Big is not better, enough is enough.



By Linetype Architectural Architect Ben Brady



Is affordable architecture an oxymoron?

Is affordable architecture an oxymoron?

I don’t come across many clients (actually none), who have an unlimited budget. When to even build a stock standard house will extend the reach of many New Zealanders, it leads us to carefully consider where we are putting our money and question the default settings on architectural design.


Is affordable architecture an oxymoron?

Do you build three double bedrooms, a double garage, walk in robes, ensuites and sculleries to protect resale value when there is now just the two of you at home? Do the kids get a double room and bathroom each? If we follow the contemporary patterns, the house size is large and the goals start to become unattainable and can rob you of the opportunity for a bit of architectural excitement.

A good architectural designer will sensitively record and follow your brief. And that is just it; it is your brief. You have the most power at that early stage to influence the project and cost by what you ask for. With this in mind I challenge my clients to really prioritise their wish list. If it is a well written brief, it will beautifully reflect their desired day to day lifestyle rather than prescribe a number and size of rooms.

Describing a lifestyle leaves room for creativity. If you get it right, that covered outdoor living area where you actually want to spend most of your time living, won’t be cut in the cost savings because it has a higher value than a walk-in wardrobe.


Ben Brady
Linetype Architectural Director & Designer   Ben Brady



Affordable hilltop lifestyle

Affordable hilltop lifestyle

A hilltop lifestyle dream and a desire for affordability produced Linetype Architectural Director & Designer Ben Brady’s own enchanting home on Moncks Spur.


Affordable hilltop lifestyle


A search for hill sites led him here, but Ben initially rejected the section because its 30-degree slope meant the numbers just didn’t add up. However, a serendipitous price reduction put the numbers where they needed to be, and just like that the project was on.
Ben says the house is conceived in simple form, but the rectangular box shapes set against the slope, plus the magnificent views over Barnett Park to the mouth of the estuary, mean the effect is dramatic. Unusually, the three bedrooms are below the living space, but Ben has ensured that every room in the house has a view; from the kitchen, dining, and living area across the deck that spans the length of the room, it is panoramic.


Affordable hilltop lifestyle

Budgets were key in material selections and resulted in lightweight construction utilising timber framing, including floors. Metalcraft Kahu profile steel was chosen because it works for both the low-pitched roof and the cladding. Interiors are neural toned to allow the views to prevail, and are again satisfyingly cost effective. The flooring is whitewashed Stranboard, and the kitchen is an undercover mass-produced modular purchase, customised with timber shelves and toe boards. It whispers bespoke, but came in at an astonishingly low $10,000. Necessarily complex foundations allow the top one metre of soil to slide, while all retaining walls are meticulously separated from the house to prevent ‘hammering’, meaning the house will stay intact in an earthquake.


Affordable hilltop lifestyle

Keane Building constructed the house, with Chris Keane helpfully allowing Ben to manage certain elements to assist with the budget. “Chris has done a great job and nothing was ever a problem”. Chosen by Ben for their enthusiasm and positivity Ben believes “a project should be fun and these guys made it so”. Chris Keane says, “It was a real privilege being chosen to assist Ben building his home. We’ve worked with him in the past and really enjoyed collaborating with him, this time was no different. We find that Ben is innovative and pushes the boundaries, which is always enjoyable. Ben’s passion and willingness to collaborate makes him a real pleasure to work with, and we are thrilled we had the opportunity to work on this project.”