Timber Cross

Client Brief

This residence is located on a south facing sloping site  with views to St Clair Golf Course West, to Sea South and St Kilda Beach  East. Native bush is North and road access is East. The client brief sought a  small family house with main bedroom, dressing room and ensuite, separated  from two smaller bedrooms for their son and daughter with a dividing wall  able to be removed to create a guest bedroom in the future. Off street  parking, carport, foyer, office, storage, laundry, open plan kitchen, dining  and living and outdoor living spaces to shelter from the wind and privacy  from the road and neighbours was also requested. The client’s desire was for  a design to achieve all this within the restriction of a 150 square metre  home and a tight project budget using cost-effective construction, low  maintenance materials and finishes with a neutral colour palette.

Creative Solution & Design Features

Inspired by the client’s Catholic beliefs, the house was designed as a timber cross and a metaphor symbolic of their faith. The cross plan creates multiple exterior walls to capture the best sun and views on the site from an elevated position.

The cross-plan on the upper level creates four parts intersecting at the open-plan kitchen dining space above a central concrete masonry cube consisting of foyer, office, store and stair on the lower level. This anchors and elevates the timber cross to hover on steel legs lightly touching the earth. A driveway to the carport under the living area defines a formal entry on the lower level to the south. The upper level casual entry is from a level lawn onto a deck providing sheltered and private outdoor living spaces from the wind, road and neighbours to the north. A deck, parent’s bedroom, dressing room and ensuite form the west part of the cross. A deck, children’s bedroom, bathroom and laundry are to the east.

The building cross form of the house adds to the residential character of the neighbourhood and contributes to the public realm between the road and golf course with lawn and planting merged into the landscape making the house look as if it merges onto the neighbouring golf course. The materiality of timber was selected for lightweight construction, exterior cladding and soffits, decks, interior stair, handrail, flooring and joinery.

Durable materials, low maintenance and colours extend from the exterior upper level white soffits into the white interiors with white Caesarstone bench tops and joinery to create a minimalist interior for the display of the clients personal belongs. Interiors were created to feel light and spacious above timber flooring that visually links the client to the cross.

Low water flow plumbing fittings and appliances, Resene eco non-toxic paint finishes, FSC certified timber and low impact on the land offer sustainability with economic and environmental features to delight the client.


Site constraints breed creativity - Otago Daily Times, 1 June 2018

Project details

  • Completion:


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Contact Us

Gary Todd Architecture


18 Estuary Crescent
Fairfield, Dunedin

Head Office: 03 488 4594

Central Otago

62 Lagoon Avenue
Albert Town, Wanaka

Gary Todd: 027 279 9306


53b Edward Avenue
Edgeware, Christchurch

Courtney Todd: 027 388 6504

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