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Salamanca Apartments a true transformation

Kim Stewart Nov 11
Salamanca Apartments a true transformation

Superb detailing and planning by Parsonson Architects has taken an existing house with good bones and crafted it into a new level of quality in Wellington residential architecture. Parsonson Architects joined its clients on their project before they had purchased the Kelburn property.

“It was a fantastic site with amazing views east across the city to the harbour and west to Tinakori Hill,” says Gerald Parsonson. “It had great sun all day, from morning right through to late afternoon.”

The existing home on site housed two generously sized single level dwellings across a 1950’s built, two-storey concrete structure.

As Gerald and his clients looked into the options they had for developing the site, they settled on two units, demolishing the upper, timber construction floor of the existing house, leaving the concrete downstairs, including concrete columns and the concrete floor slab of the upstairs unit, and building on top of that. Gerald says his first hurdle was making this project feasible.

“By keeping some of the existing structure this was theoretically less expensive. But in an old house, there are always surprises that require re-medial work. The concrete slab that existed for the upper level wasn’t as good quality as we thought. Everything else was good, but that part required a lot of TLC to get it up to scratch, and we had to re-pour the slab over the top.”

Gerald’s clients had come from a beautiful old villa in Kelburn with an expansive garden.

“They are quite keen gardeners, so at the north end of the house facing the harbour, we put a winter garden, an inside/outside space fringed by an outdoor garden and protected with slender vertical green and permeable Kaynemaille screens. These can be opened in different directions depending on the sun and wind conditions.”

While many of the established trees on site were removed to make way for the extension, a large cabbage tree was saved, and this sits in front of the winter garden, providing privacy and shelter. New trees have been planted which will eventually flesh out and fill in gaps.

Salamanca Apartments a true transformation

Both upstairs and downstairs dwellings are laid out so their main living spaces can enjoy generous views and sunlight. The living spaces are bent L shapes facing north to direct views and allow for later afternoon sun into both levels.

The apartments have been designed and built using Passive House principles, but without certification due to the size of the windows.

It utilises high levels of insulation, an air-tightness wrap behind a services cavity within the wall and ceiling constructions, and a heat-recovery ventilation system minimising heating requirements while maintaining comfortable and healthy indoor air quality, with minimal heat loss.

The Salamanca Apartments project won Parsonson Architects a 2019 NZIA Wellington Architecture Award in the Housing – Multi Unit category.

The owners had an apartment in Tauranga which they’ve since sold, because they now have a home they can sit in, surrounded by the garden they love, and keep toasty and warm while enjoying some of Wellington’s most fabulous views.

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