Lowry Bay Artists Studio, Wellington Home, New Zealand Building, NZ Architecture, Property Images

Artists Studio in Lowry Bay

1 May 2023

Design: Wallace Architects

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington NZ

Photos: Paul McCredie

Lowry Bay Artists Studio, Wellington

Prominent artist Jacqui Colley required an Artists Studio space to create her often large scale works of art. Working from home was the ideal solution so she engaged Wallace Architects to come up with a scheme that would maximize the existing property.

Artists Studio Lowry Bay Wellington

Located in Lowry Bay, Wellington on a north facing steeply sloped hillside overlooking the bay, the new studio occupies the basement level of an existing 1960s house. This provided a beautiful, secluded space and the opportunity for a new outdoor living area above directly off the existing Living Room.

Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington

A treehouse typology was adopted to capture the sense of being suspended amongst the tree canopy. The new deck above cantilevers over the studio space below providing an overhang for shade and covered pergolas at both levels offering shelter from the rain to either sit and enjoy the views or in the case of the studio deck, carry out artworks involving chemicals.

Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington NZ

At the heart of this project is the deep connection Jacqui and her family have with this place, their respect for the trees, the stream, the sea, the wharf, the birds.

This project won the NZIA Local Architecture Award for 2021.

Jury Citation
An elegantly layered composition of timber forms belies the technical difficulties posed by this small and challenging site. Solved with an inventive cantilevering steel structure, this small addition to a 1960s Lowry Bay home appears to hover. Superbly crafted in every respect, this artist’s studio, with a deck above, is the product of a high level of precise detailing. This delicate and thoughtful response is calming and uplifting, and provides a flexible and useful space that enriches daily life.

Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington NZ Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington NZ

What was the brief?
The objective of this project was to design a new 8 x 5m artist’s studio as either a standalone building or connected to the existing 1960s three-bedroom house.

Jacqui Colley, the artist, required a dedicated space for her work that could accommodate her large canvas artworks, rolls of drawing paper, and other materials. Additionally, Jacqui’s partner occasionally worked from home, making a separate studio space a necessity.

The studio was required to have high-quality diffuse lighting, sound insulation, and accommodate a large table on wheels that could be easily rolled outside to a deck area for the preparation of artwork that required chemicals. Adequate storage space and a kitchenette/clean-up area were also required.

Artists Studio Lowry Bay Wellington

After evaluating various options, the basement location was selected as it was a secluded area that connected to the garden and stream, with direct pedestrian access to the beach. The basement location also provided an opportunity for a deck level above, which could be accessed from the existing living room. Additionally, a new direct internal access was created to the studio from the main living/kitchen room.
The studio was to have a contemporary style while integrate well with the existing house and property.

What were the key challenges?
The primary challenge was the limited access for materials during construction. The main access to the house from the road above was via a cable car down a steep hillside, making it difficult to transport materials. Consequently, most of the materials were dropped off in a neighbour’s driveway off the busy main road below and immediately carried up via a shared pedestrian lane. Alternatively, they were dropped off at the top of the property on the quieter road and carried down 137 steps adjacent to the cable car, which added to the logistical difficulties.
Another significant challenge was the budget. The budgetary limitations required the team to carefully balance costs with design requirements, resulting in the need for creative solutions to maximize resources and minimize expenses, also to contain and manage the scope.

Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington Lowry Bay Artists Studio Wellington

Key products used:
A combination of stained western red cedar vertical weatherboards, dark-colored aluminum joinery, and steel were carefully chosen as the primary materials for the project. The steel structure enabled a staggered cantilevered approach to the addition, enhanced by the butterfly configuration of the overhead pergola canopy. This choice of materials added to the overall aesthetic and enhanced the feeling of the treehouse floating among the trees.

For the interior materials, a simple painted ply floor was selected to accommodate the inevitable paint spills that would become part of the floor surface. Plywood cabinetry was used for the kitchenette and storage area, while a large LVL beam set low on the wall formed a ledge to lean large works in progress.

Upstairs, American oak was used as a trim to complement the existing kitchen, and the existing timber tongue and grooved flooring was re-used on the new stair tread and risers. A new white aluminium triple sliding door was installed to provide a generous opening onto the new deck over the studio roof. The deck was covered with a cedar and steel pergola roof and featured a glass balustrade for unobstructed views across the valley to the harbor.

Jacqui’s personal touches included beautiful linen curtains and a natural wool rug that provided a lovely soft neutral palette, creating a calm and complementary background for the artwork that covered the walls.

Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?
Jacqui Colley is an award-winning contemporary New Zealand artist. Born in Zambia, she was raised in Cape Town, South Africa where she studied graphic design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology before moving to New Zealand in 1996.

Her work is exhibited internationally, and she is regularly involved with collaborations, residencies and special projects.
She has a very clear and strong visual language which she bought to the project and was the ideal client as she was very keen that the design idea wasn’t to be compromised through the build process.

Artists Studio Lowry Bay NZ Artists Studio Lowry Bay Wellington

Lowry Bay Artists Studio in Wellington, NZ – Building Information

Architecture: Wallace Architects – Melling Architects

Artists Studio Lowry Bay NZ Artists Studio Lowry Bay 

Photography: Paul McCredie

Lowry Bay Artists Studio, Wellington, NZ images / information received 270423

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

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