Urban Planning
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Urban Planning

Lisa Webb creates a home of intrigue and shadow on a tiny scrap of land that was formerly a front lawn.

Simon Farrell-Green

For a moment, coming in from a bright Auckland afternoon through the timber-lined entry of architect Lisa Webb’s home, your eyes take time to adjust. Slowly, the house reveals itself as you round the corner – a black ceiling, rimu lining and dark blue walls come into relief.

The effect is almost painterly, with the hues of an old Dutch master. Colours are warm and saturated. Shafts of light enter through deliberately placed windows and skylights, to exist as almost solid objects inside the space. There are quite a lot of walls. The entire house feels cocooned, pleasantly inward facing, but not claustrophobic. “I feel comfortable in enclosed spaces,” says Webb. “I like feeling my back against a wall. For me it’s a physical sense, the way you feel a space. It’s one of the reasons I became an architect – because I felt physically different in different spaces.”

It’s also a deliberate response to the tiny inner-city Auckland site on which the house sits. Webb and her husband Alastair Pope were renting a rambling old bungalow on a 1000-square-metre site across the road when, in 2015, this section came up. It’s 332 square metres, of which only 200-odd are buildable, thanks to a driveway that’s shared with the house behind. It was covered in covenants to protect the view from the original house, and while it was flat and got good sun, north was straight out front, to the street.

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June 2019