LocationChristchurch, New Zealand
Architect in ChargeCymon Allfrey
Design TeamCymon Allfrey, Brad McFarlane
LandscapeRough and Milne
Text description provided by the architects. The brief was to create a high density, low rise, apartment complex which provides an ‘entry level’, contemporary living environment for the inner city dweller. The brief asked for apartments to relate to each other to generate a positive sense of community and offer occupants opportunities for privacy.
The subject site is located within the ‘four avenues’ of Christchurch City. This site is zoned for high density residential activity and is within the areas identified by Christchurch City Council in 2005 that would fulfil the projected ‘surge’ of population growth expected by 2030.
In search of a marketing identity for this development, our client settled on the name ‘Wilton Close’, he explained, our site is on Salisbury Street, Christchurch. He looked at a map of the general vicinity of Salisbury United Kingdom and discovered a nearby town ‘Wilton’ and commented, “Wilton, it’s close to Salisbury!”
The initial design inspiration for the building was a contemporary reference to its namesake ‘Wilton House’, Wiltshire, United Kingdom. In particular we drew inspiration from the Palladian south façade of this building (by Inigo Jones c. 1630) and the way this stately home was organised around a central court.
The road façade is crafted from an understated palette of material, and form. The façade is deliberately devoid of ‘fussy’ detail to ensure the strong use of geometry is not diluted. Understated openings lead to a central court where elements, similar to that of the road façade are used to visually counteract the repetition of the structural system. Here each face is treated to create individuality of each apartment.
Colour is used sparingly throughout the buildings directing ones focus to the dynamic landscaped, communal court. Vivid white balconies pierce the dark, understated building form. Stained timber has been used as an element to create further visual relief. Citric walls extend from the basement as indicators to assist in navigation around the site.
The building rises from the basement as a solid three level structure of stacked concrete block. Structurally, the building offers a simple geometric form with a high level of repetition to maintain an economical solution. Masonry structure was chosen due to construction constraints above the large basement.
At the lower level we have taken care to minimise the loss of privacy relative to the main pedestrian circulation court by opening the units to private courts outside the main ring form of the building. In order to maintain a connection to the internal community to the lower units, narrow windows have been positioned adjacent to the main court.
First floor units feature deep, ‘solid’ balconies which extend from the building to provide external living spaces. The form of these balconies provides elements of screening to offer both privacy and opportunities to view the communal court.
The upper levels feature a metal sheet cladding which elegantly drapes from the roof to meet the lower structure. Windows and balconies pierce this metal cladding breaking the geometry and ensuring every view of the building is different.