Building height and mass Print

Design Outcome

​​​​​​The height of a building and its overall mass are the most important factors in determining what impact the building will have on its immediate surroundings. This includes how it is perceived from the street and by the neighbours, and how successfully it fits with the character of the neighbourhood.

The building should create private sunny outdoor spaces for the occupants, while minimising overshadowing and overlooking of neighbouring properties. This is a particular issue for developments on rear lots which may have neighbours on all sides.​

Better Design Practice

​Consider two storey developments on smaller lots.
This is to create more usable outdoor space.

​Consider single storey developments on rear sites.
This minimises overlooking.

​On sloping sites, consider stepping the sections of the house up or down the slope.
This is to minimise earthworks and reinforce the natural topography. ​

Think about the roof

Auckland is a hilly city and roofs are often highly visible.
The roofscape of houses can have a big impact on how an area looks, and can convey a positive or negative impression. The roof design is a critical component of a house and can change its overall appearance, making the house look bigger or smaller relative to the street or neighbours. 

Use simple roof forms.
These are cheaper to build and their simple nature leaves less chance of leaks and other problems in the future. 

Use wide eaves to protect the tops of walls from the weather.
Ensure windows are placed so that eaves can provide shade and protect the inside of the house from overheating.

Design the ground floor, first floor, and roof together

Design all parts of the house together to ensure they have a clear relationship to each other. 
The top and bottom floors should have repeating elements, materials and alignments that visually connect them together. The roof should be designed to express the different aspects of the building, such as internal spaces, the front and back, the entrance and orientation to sun and views. 

Where there is a complicated floor plan, avoid a complicated roof as this can lead to unnecessary construction difficulties and a visually chaotic building. 
This can be ameliorated if you have professional design advice from an architect from the start.

Respond to the context

Ensure the building responds to the qualities of the area, such as the landform and landscape, and the cultural and built heritage. 
The context analysis and design response will help identify these qualities for the area, as well as the local character. 

​In an area where heritage character is important, the building should be in keeping with this character.
In areas that are changing, the design response may anticipate that change and address the new conditions. It is important to acknowledge that change occurs over time, and to recognise and respond to the existing conditions so the design integrates successfully into its context both now and in the future.

Articulate the house

Houses, particularly if they are more than one storey tall, should be defined along the street as a series of simple forms.
Good design will balance making the building beautiful and well articulated with keeping cost and complexity down. A well designed, well articulated building does not mean it will cost more or be harder to build. 

Other aspects of house design include the scale of architectural features and how often they are repeated, the placement and treatment of windows (fenestration) and the choice of materials and colour.
These should all complement the streetscape and character of the area.

Consider the overall dimensions of the primary form of the house (height, width and depth), as well as the frontage and side yard setbacks as a primary means of relating to local character.
Consider the proportion of windows to wall area, and the shape and size of individual elements in relation to a human scale. 
Well proportioned elements on the façade of the building significantly improve its appearance and value. 

Achieve variety and individuality as well as an integrated and harmonious design outcome. 
This might be achieved through details such as material selection and window design. 

Avoid creating blank, unarticulated facades on any side, particularly on those visible from the street or other public area.
Facades not visible from the street are still visible from neighbouring dwellings and the wider neighbourhood.

​Consider all sides of the house when designing the facades.
They should include thoughtful articulation and attention to detail, while recognising that facade design will vary relative to orientation and purpose.

Avoid long blank facades on upper levels.
Except where lower levels of fenestration are necessary to assist privacy.

Setting back parts of a facade will provide interest through variation and allow different elements to be expressed.
This will also create areas of shelter for entrances and outdoor spaces when the setback is at ground level.

Rules of Thumb

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