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No. 47 (June 1964)
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This low-cost house was designed and built for a Pakeha family, not a Maori one. The porch, or verandah, at the front is there simply because it is such a useful, sociable and sunny place to have in a house. It is also a way of getting extra living space comparatively cheaply. It is really an extension of the living room, which lies behind it. Many modern homes have similar verandahs, or terraces, these days.

Two Designs for Family Homes

The writer, Mr G. Rosenberg, is a senior lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Auckland. In this article he considers some possible ways of dealing with problems involved in designing comfortable well-planned low-budget homes for large families.

What suits one family may not suit another. In building a new home, it is important carefully to consider all the possibilities, so that the result will be right for the people who have to live in it. It is hoped that this article may be of interest to people planning to build their own home.

Like all articles appearing in ‘Te Ao Hou’, it does not necessarily express the official policy of the Maori Affairs Department. The Department has recently published an attractive booklet, ‘Homes for the People’, giving much information, concerning both ways and means and possible plans, which will be valuable to people thinking of building. This booklet is available free of charge from all branches of the Maori Affairs Department.—Ed.

As an architect I have been interested for some years in the task of designing houses that would be particularly suitable for Maori owners and tenants, and which would at the same time be readily saleable to Pakehas if the need arose.

Large Families with Little Money

I have thought about houses that would be right for large families with little money. In such houses one would have to ‘use every inch of space’ as the saying goes. One would also have to incorporate many features which Maoris would like, but which Pakehas would not necessarily notice, or dislike if they did notice them (a house for a large family would, of course, suit many large Pakeha families as well).

In 1961 I designed the three-bedroom house which is shown in the photograph above and in the plan on the next page. It is a variation

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This plan shows the interior of the house illustrated on the previous page. At one end the roof is brought forward to form a verandah, an open-air extension of the living room. The plan, which was to the satisfaction of State Advances, does not provide for built-in wardrobes (though these could be included). But it does have good kitchen fittings, separate W.C., and insulation in floor and roof.

on the normal three-bedroom house design, and cost about £2,800. It had low eaves, and a large living space open to the rafters. In this living space there is a kitchen, a dining space, and a divan that can be used occasionally as an extra bed. It opens out to a veranda on the sunny north gable wall, over which the roof is extended. That might make it look a bit like a whare, but this particular house was built for a European family, and they liked the roof. It might be less popular with a Maori family — it was a sensible design for a large site, though; only the veranda would not be private enough if it faced the street. The interior is light and useful; the internal passage to the bedrooms has direct light, opens into the back entrance, and is wide enough to look spacious. The children can play in this wide passage, and it is almost part of the living space. One room is small, which is useful if somebody is sick. But all bedrooms take at least two beds each. There is room for visitors, and the kitchen is a long one, so that more than one woman could work in it at a time. The sunny veranda, with its wide steps, is good for receiving visitors.

New Methods Possible

Since then some advances in building techniques have occurred, notably the development of new roofing materials which make a flat or near-flat roof a practical possibility. This has the effect of making it easier and cheaper to build houses to plans which are not strictly rectangular. This, in turn, gives us the chance of including many new features in the design.

‘Outdoor Living Room’

A new type of plan, making use of some of the possibilities which this type of roof presents, is submitted here for your criticism. It features an ‘outdoor living room’, an internal court around which the house is built. This acts as a private ‘open air living room’, an addition to the living space, either covered or not, that could be much cheaper than a large room inside the house, while serving very well when there are many visitors.

Eliminates Passages

The plan is no larger than the traditional one, but it eliminates all passages, thereby saving space for other purposes. The living room itself is 33 feet long, and parts of it are narrow, like a long gallery, open on one side with glass doors to the internal court, our ‘open air living room’. Because of this it will not feel cramped. Other parts of the living room are 13 feet wide, and the whole living

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space is 336 sq. ft. in area.

The bedrooms are all much larger than in similar houses built on more traditional lines, having 130 sq. ft., 170 sq. ft., and 175 sq. ft. respectively. This compares with 100 sq. ft., 108 sq. ft., and 108 sq. ft. in the Maori Affairs Department's house, plan type 3/21 A. This plan has 1030 sq. ft., while the new plan which we are considering here has only 1000 sq. ft. Even if one made the two large children's bedrooms, one for boys and one for girls, into three bedrooms, these three bedrooms would still have 115 sq. ft. each, and (since there is, of course, a bedroom for the parents also), the house would be a four-bedroom house. But as it is designed with three bedrooms, there is room for more beds if necessary—at least ten beds, without the use of bunks.

Sheltered Sunny Space

Even if the ‘outdoor living room’ is not covered over, either fully or in part, it will be useful as a sheltered, sunny, private space. On a narrow section it could face the boundary of the section, and be shielded by a high hedge or fence or one of the new open-block walls. If this ‘outdoor living room’ faces the road, or the back of the section, once again a screen wall would in some cases be useful; in other cases it would be open on this one side, and the planting of the garden would protect it from view and from the wind.

No Dark Corners

There are no tiny rooms in this house, and no dark places. One could receive visitors, one can have tables for children's study, and there are four places, each with hot and cold water, where children and parents can wash. Children and parents have separate parts of the house and do not disturb each other. The W.C. is accessible from the laundry, which also serves as back-entrance lobby; in this way it is well aired and isolated from the rest of the house.

Not for Everyone, but Well worth Considering

Such a plan might not suit every section and every family, but it may be a type of plan well worth studying.

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Key to Plan

1 Living room
2 Dining space
3 Kitchen
4 Parents' bedroom
5, 6 Boys' and girls' bedrooms
7 Back door, laundry
8 Bathroom
9 W.C.
10 Open air room veranda
This house, also intended for a large family with a limited budget, is designed to make use of new roofing materials which make it easier and cheaper to build houses which are not strictly rectangular. The children's bedrooms are on one side of the house, and the parent's bedroom is on the other side. Between them is an open space which, on a suitable section, would make an excellent ‘outdoor living room’ which could be either roofed over or left as it is. Glass doors open from this open space into the passage, which is approximately seven feet wide and has been designed to act as part of the living room (for example, it would be a wonderful place for children to play on wet days. Because of the glass doors it would not feel cramped).
This plan could easily be modified to provide three children's bedrooms instead of the two shown. The rooms would still be quite large if this were done.