The DOGBOX | Patch Work Architecture

The DOGBOX, a small affordable house designed and built by three recent New Zealand architecture grads. It has 2 bedrooms in 947 sq ft. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

Three recent New Zealand architecture graduates decided to get hands-on building experience and to jump-start their careers by designing and building a small house. It certainly helped their careers when the house, dubbed the DOGBOX, was recognized with an award from the Auckland Architecture Association.

Having a limited budget to work with, Ben Mitchell-Anyon, Sally Ogle and Tim Gittos spent months searching property listings before finding an affordable section in Wanganui on the North Island.

The DOGBOX, a small affordable house designed and built by three recent New Zealand architecture grads. It has 2 bedrooms in 947 sq ft. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

The property was cheap because it was quite steep, requiring that the building materials be hand-carried up to the small buildable area at the top. Because the architects and their friends did most of the carrying themselves, the extra effort to move materials lengthened the project’s timeline but did not add much to the cost.

The three also searched for low-cost and recycled building materials. They designed the house around their finds, starting with several rusty iron trusses (now painted blue) and a stack of pine poles.

The DOGBOX, a small affordable house designed and built by three recent New Zealand architecture grads. It has 2 bedrooms in 947 sq ft. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

The house appears complex but at its core it is just a straightforward two-storey rectangular box. Half the roof covers the 88 m2 (947 ft2) interior of the house while the other half extends forward to shelter a series of decks and verandahs that jog in and out from under the roofline.

A daring design decision was to not have any inside hallway upstairs, so the only circulation path from the top of the stairs to the two bedrooms and bathroom is via the verandah.

The DOGBOX, a small affordable house designed and built by three recent New Zealand architecture grads. It has 2 bedrooms in 947 sq ft. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

Twinwall polycarbonate panels screening the upper verandah add a layer of semi-transparency, hinting at the structure behind and glowing like a lantern at night. The polycarbonate panels screen off outdoor rooms on the verandah, including an outdoor bathing area (there is an inside bathroom too). Some of the panels slide or flip open, allowing for adjustment based on desired levels of sunlight, shade and breeze.

The DOGBOX, a small affordable house designed and built by three recent New Zealand architecture grads. It has 2 bedrooms in 947 sq ft. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

To keep finishing costs down, some materials were left in their raw state with no or minimal finishing. In other cases, cheap materials were used but were detailed well and carefully combined with other materials for an overall appearance that is greater than the sum of the parts. The concrete retaining wall along the back of the lower level was left exposed, while the floor is polished concrete. Most of the other walls and ceilings were finished with sanded construction-grade plywood, and the deck railing is ordinary chain-link fencing.

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Photographs by Paul McCredie, courtesy of Patch Work Architecture.

Text copyright 2014 SmallHouseBliss. All Rights Reserved.

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