‘Swamp Dwelling’ reigns Supreme

The affectionately titled ‘Swamp Dwelling’ by Ben Brady of Linetype Architectural took out the top award in the 2021 ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Awards.

Praised for his ability to not only navigate a flood managed area, but to create a remarkable design on an unforgiving and uninspiring site, Ben’s clients were a retired couple relocating from a lifestyle block and looking to downsize their maintenance commitments. The design needed to be accessible, have good building performance, an art studio, motorcycle workshop, a bedroom and guest suite, plus good outdoor living.

Photography by Dennis Radermacher of Lightforge

With the chosen site positioned directly opposite a river in a flood management area, Ben had a required floor level of 1.4m above ground, tough rules on earthworks and filling, a narrow lot, and a generous road setback to keep from the river to contend with.

To mitigate the sites challenges, the orientation of the design was hugely important. Positioning the driveway to the south and garaging to the back of the section allowed for the living space to face the river view and a private courtyard to be created along the north of the building.

Photography by Dennis Radermacher of Lightforge

Visually, one of the stand out features of this design is the Corten screen, which is designed to soften the height of the house, while offering privacy and sun screening.

Despite its challenges, the 2021 judging panel commended Ben for his ability to produce a remarkable design on a less than remarkable site.

Photography by Dennis Radermacher of Lightforge

“This is one of those buildings where the more you keep looking, the more you find. There is nothing exceptional about the site to exploit, there is no stunning view, no native bush, no flowing stream, and no heritage setting, no inspiration is present. Instead, this unforgiving site presents two direct difficulties – a long thin plan and a high ground water level.

But yet, what has been produced here is an outstanding design.

The extended gable to the front creates a sheltered link to the exterior landscaped areas; and a finely crafted folded perforated Corten screen creates a complementary screening and sheltering element to the front deck and elevation. A stepped deck softens the height of the exterior elevation inside and throughout the design is exquisitely detailed and consistent.

When you peel back the engaging and pleasing skin of this building, underneath you find the solid bones of a set of well-understood, eco-friendly technologies and design solutions. Out of the swamp has risen a sophisticated but un-presuming beauty.”