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Premier House, Auckland

13 Oct 2012

The strength of concrete is crucial to the success of this residential property on a picturesque, but steep site that posed a number of challenges around the presence of council easements and district plan restrictions. 

When conceptualising and analysing the site the architects realised that by excavating up to 3m in some areas the house could be positioned to achieve a compliant two-storey structure that provided the required space and privacy.  This positioning also allowed the house to be built away from the council easements, reducing costly foundation work, while opening up the northern areas of the site.

The foundations and the house structure are built around a concrete raft slab and sandwich panel arrangement.  The raft slab offers seismic resilience and is a key element of the overall passive solar design.

Similarly, the mass of the sandwich panels help prevent dramatic fluctuation in the house’s internal environment, while also providing retaining capability for the site.  Incorporating the insulation within the structural panels meant no surface treatment was required and that thermal gain was optimised.

Interestingly, all the panels were cast against the raft slab, which acted as reusable formwork, imprinting the history of the build into the exposed panels for all to appreciate. 

Using the concrete panels to anchor the home into the ground, the remainder of the structure could use this rigidity to cantilever off, allowing for a lightweight transparency and double height ceilings where the house connects with the surrounding landscape on the north side.

The different (insulated) concrete construction techniques employed provide excellent natural comfort (with passive ventilation and appropriate glazing throughout), along with the required structural capacity and durability.

In this instance, simplicity of design has been realised through the intelligent use of versatile concrete to create a stylish and functional family home on a difficult site.


Ralf Kessel, on behalf of Matter, accepts the Excellence in Residential
Construction Award from CCANZ Chair Ross Pickworth