Elbow Room

Elbow Room

space craft architects
Tokomaru, New Zealand | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
David Straight

Elbow Room

space craft architects as Architects

“We could either build a bigger house and it could be one of those cookie cutter cheap ones, or we could get an architect and build well, not necessarily big.” says the client. The possibilities of dimension, angle and frequency vary significantly in any design, each line drawn in the concept stage contributing to invoices along the way. So in order to keep to budget, architects Tim Gittos and Caroline Robertson of Spacecraft Architects, looked to the envelope as a way to interrogate cost.


“Keeping it simple in some parts of the house allowed us to have fun in other spaces”, reflects Tim. The square, for its simplicity and uncomplicated form is the most efficient use of linear wall and it seems obvious to say but the less there is, the cheaper it is. By reducing the external size, it also meant that they were able to spend money in other places.


Effortlessly fitting under the one big roof, a covered entry accommodates both a subtle carport and an expertly hidden laundry. The kitchen, dining and living space have been collated into one, suiting the family of three well.  The asymmetrical pyramid roof produces a surprising volume to the living space, and playfully expands the perceived size of the building. Well placed skylights mark the edge of the ceiling and cast light across the internal walls. Constructed with off the shelf DHS steel beams, the South and West walls open out to the pond with floor to ceiling glazing. The unpretentious materials paired with the theatrical height, creating the perfect balance of form and affordability.


The singular living space’s ability to adapt provides seasonal pleasure for the owners who operate the sliding walls almost daily. Corner doors set back from the roof line expand the lounge to nearly double its size. Offering refuge from the weather, the covered outdoor space is unreasonably delightful, and anyone who has ever lived with it surely wouldn’t ever go without. The spatial versatility also allows for some control over the Horowhenua winds.


Edges of the North and Eastern boundary are lined with bedrooms, wardrobes and bathrooms, forming a tidy L shape. This shoulder of private spaces is separated by the living with a buffer of cupboards, corridors and cleverly placed study nook. Hidden cavity sliders planted at intersections between the two zones provide further visual and audio division.


The robust design of the architects, matched with the attitude of the clients, skilfully executed by builders Avenue Construction, attest to the idea that you can produce good accessible architecture, without the stiff price tag.


Material Used:

1. Zincalume trapezoidal Cladding and roofing

2. Heart Macrocarpa Decking

3. Poplar Ply Ceiling

4. 18mm Birch Ply cabinetry and 2mm Stainless tops

5. Double glazed thermally broken Anodised aluminium joinery

6. Hydronic underfloor heating

7. Pyroclassic Woodburner Fire

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