No.8 Wire is a paper architecture explorative analysis of the house, relative to the landscape of central Otago. As the title declares, the aesthetic is a bold foray of built form placed in conversance to the surroundings. The historic use of No.8 wire has entered into the cultural lexicon of many countries, especially the New Zealand concept of resourcefulness and creativity; best described as New Zealander’s ingenuity and adaptability.
Designed by Jonathan Gibb, the concept of No.8 Wire and its associated ideals of adaptability have been used to give emphasis to the juxtaposition of a house within the expanse of a landscape. The intimacy and concept of what constitutes a home has been simply portrayed by use of the gable end, used as an indoctrinating device to express the essence of suburbia’s aesthetic, a figure and ‘sign’ of what may constitute a home. Abstracted and re-formed into a self sustaining entity, self referential through mirroring, offset and re-expressed as a didactic expression of space.
Based about a 1.2m grid in plan and section the design relies on repetitive elements amassed as a kit of parts. The overall ensconce is made from 3 types of space; transparent, solid and void. The upper most volume is transparent, containing living dining and kitchen; publicly expressed and opened to the surroundings. The next volume is solid, containing bedding and ablutions; privatized to the individuals of the house. Externalized decks are formed with the shift of the volumes longitudinally with a main deck formed with cantilevered and wire supported structure for use from the living spaces. The assembly is placed on repeating pilasters, separating the whole from the ground plain also serving to extradite the building from its earthly foundation. The overall combination of these spaces is then wrapped in No.8 wire, forming a glistening web of constant threads combining all as one whole.
The project is placed to a boundary edge of an ebbing and flowing golden field of wheat, with the direct site below the raised building lowered to the same height as the boundary road, cutting into the body of the landscape. To sustain this intrusion (retaining the land) rough cast concrete sidings, cast on-site are placed. These funnel the insertion and declare the house to the landscape. The end of the funneling allows for the site to flow into the lowered land, now tamed as lawn.
Sustainably the building produces its own electricity through doubled glazed ultra-white Photo-voltaic Solar-glass placed on the roof and side walls, with a lighting transmission rate of 91.5%. Rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in individual storage tanks within the walls. Waste water is ducted through the central structure of the spiral stair to a below ground composting tank with field drains to the lawn and gravelled vehicular forecourt. Grey water is re-used via an inline process of UV purification for potable water. The No.8 Wire House may stand alone, but is informed by many. “Not I, some child, born in a marvelous year, Will learn the trick of standing upright here”. Curnow, Allan: The Skeleton of the Great Moa, in the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, circa 1943.
Architect: Jonathan Gibb Renderings: Courtesy of Jonathan Gibb