Otago Polytechnic
Next Door Down Bentley Archer

Next door down

A balance of private and shared spaces encourages extended family living.

Urban sprawl in New Zealand continues as people still chase the dream of a owning their own single-family home with section. Others settle for living in a small apartment, physically close yet disconnected from their neighbours. Bentley Archer sought an alternative housing solution to bridge the gap between the two, combining the positive aspects of both lifestyles while reducing a family's footprint.

Bentley chose to work with a site that was on the boundary between the inner city and the suburbs. He started by looking for opportunities to share spaces that might be less frequently used. Dedicated dining rooms are replaced with smaller informal eating spaces, complemented by larger flexible shared spaces which connect each pair of homes. Screened by plants from a busy road, the backs of the houses feature bathrooms and stairwells. The upstairs bedrooms and downstairs living areas face north onto a private courtyard and a shared green space. 

Bentley envisages multiple generations living together in two connected homes, with a mix of private and shared spaces connected by translucent sliding walls. His detailed plans presented several options for configuration and use of the shared areas. Garden tools and a car could also be shared. His design gently challenges our notion of privacy and achieves space efficiency.

January 2021