Rachel Wegrzyn

Architectural Graduate Practicing
Tāmaki Makaurau

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Project Title
Prairie Houses
The project rejects endless hallways, and builds units within boxes under one roof. Units of 100m² or less offer small living to those squeezed out of the Auckland housing market. Demand for high density housing has caused a groundswell of low rise city infill. A demand that has been vehemently opposed by single detached villa dwellers. While the baby-boomers despise apartments encroaching on their backyards, the millennials have developed a disdain for cheap apartment design. The aim of this architecture is satisfy these interests with a coherent tribe of dark objects. Paired black timber boxes sink in an overgrown landscape, bordered with fragrant wildflowers and tall bushes. Views into each box are obscured, no one can peek their nose into my living room. Inside levels drip into each other, stealing floor space for voids and double height spaces. Their elevations give away their incestual levels as floor edges show through large dark framed windows made by the metre. Sharp roof angles are stolen from the modernist legends of the Christchurch School - 40° monopitch makes a comeback. The stolen trend is reinvented, trees cut square apertures through their angular geometry, offering upper floor units their own private terrace with their own piece of the sky. A cherry blossom droops over a reflecting pool, stealing the attention from the dwellings and occupying the public. Its purpose is bigger than its beauty, this pond is an invisible threshold helping define the entrance into semi private space. Wide pathways feed through the sites edges, these are marked with porticos bound in vines, and fairy lights that twinkle. Tonight it is dark and warm, a Japanese restaurant owns the street front, its outdoor seating bleeding into semi public grasses, its wide eaves form an elevated boundary, but cannot muffle the cackles of women who have had too much sake. The tribe of black boxes speak to each other, their exteriors are designed to be viewed together as a collective and multi-faceted body. This is a holistic tribe corroding to a landscaped meadow. Welcome to the Prairie Houses.
Year of Completion
Student Work