Project Name: Relocatable Studio House
Architecture: William Samuels Architects
Partner: Hannah D’Arcy
Structural Engineer: Gary Hodder
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Area: 42 m²
Photo Credits: Simon Devitt
The Relocatable Studio House is a compact single-bedroom home and is an exploration of living small, affordably, and sustainably. At only 42m2 the house is compact, similar in nature to a studio apartment. But although small it has been designed to be fit for purpose, a comfortable home for a couple that allows for a high degree of liveability without the need for compromise.
Constructed by the owners on a meager $ 150,000 NZD budget, the Relocatable Studio House is built upon leasehold land, thereby eliminating the upfront costs associated with purchasing a section. Consequently, the house needed to be relocatable, allowing it to be easily moved upon completion of the lease, which informed the physical constraints of the house. We developed a series of interconnected modules that can be removed from their foundations and individually relocated, each within the maximum dimensions of a trailer.
To create a greater sense of volume within the narrow modules they are joined via an open ‘pinwheel’ plan, where each functional space within the home connects to a larger conjoined central area, resulting in a series of spaces with shared volumes. If required, additional modules can be added at a later point to add bedrooms, workspaces, or other areas. The house in its present form is by no means the finished entity, rather it is a manifestation of the needs of this moment in time and is likely to grow and evolve as those needs change.
The primary formal gesture is the creation of high barrel-vaulted ceilings within each module. Large format curved windows at the ends of each barrel bring in light and provide an outlook towards tree canopies whilst maintaining a sense of privacy from the neighbors. The window frames are hidden within the wall cavity, creating the appearance of a void, or opening at the end of each vault. A loft above the bathroom provides a secondary living space within the heart of a barrel vault, a cozy reading room with a stunning outlook. Natural materials have been selected wherever possible, and no paint has been used in this project.
Though small, the Studio House attempts to tackle some big ideas. As an exploration of an affordable path to home ownership, a more sustainable approach to building, and a testament to the liveability of smaller spaces, the house serves as a model for an alternate mode of living and as a radical departure in how we think about ‘home.’