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The Twins, Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand by First Light Studio

Project name:
The Twins
Architecture firm:
First Light Studio
Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand
David Hensel
Principal architect:
Ben Jagersma
Design team:
Ben Jagersma, Nick Officer
Interior design:
First Light Studio
Built area:
136 m² each
Site area:
1200 m²
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Essen Engineering
Environmental & MEP:
Tools used:
Black Sheep Construction
Timber frame, metal cladding with cedar accents
Residential › Housing

The Twins - A Tale of Innovation and Community

Nestled amidst the picturesque hillsides of Brooklyn, Wellington, "The Twins" stand as a testament to the vision and collaboration of two directors from First Light Studio. This project, aptly named "The Twins," revolves around the concept of duality, it represents an ingenious solution to the challenges posed by the Wellington housing market while embodying principles of sustainability and community.

The Birth of The Twins: "The Twins" found its roots in an unexpected encounter that led to the acquisition of approximately 1200 square meters of densely vegetated Wellington hillside. Despite its residential designation, the land had remained inaccessible to vehicles for over a century. The project was conceived with a noble objective in mind – to create two distinct homes for two young families who shared a common dream. In the pre-COVID housing market, this innovative approach offered an opportunity to think beyond conventional boundaries, pooling resources and skills.

To optimize resources and promote economic sustainability, it made sense to replicate the same basic blueprint twice. However, this replication was far from monotonous. While both homes share a common core, they each evolved into unique, distinctive entities, showcasing the idea that unity can exist in diversity. "The Twins" are a testament to the art of creating something extraordinary while adhering to common principles. Both houses have achieved an impressive 7-star built rating and were meticulously designed using the principles of passive house.

With three bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, a separate laundry, and open plan living environment, totalling 136 square meters, these homes were engineered to accommodate growing families while minimizing their ecological footprint. Upstairs, the separation of bedrooms and bathrooms from the living spaces ensures acoustic comfort for sleeping children. The ground floor opens predominantly towards the north along the site's long axis, capturing the sun's warmth throughout the day, thanks to its elevated position at the valley's zenith.

The two houses are strategically offset from each other, not only maximizing their individual views of the lush green belt but also creating pathways for access to sunlight throughout the day. This thoughtful siting allows the two homes to serve as meeting points for neighbors seeking interaction or as sanctuaries for moments of solitude and privacy.

"The Twins" project, though challenging, serves as an inspiring model of co-design and co-build. It underscores the potential for collaboration in creating healthy, sustainable homes in the heart of Wellington city. As a manifestation of innovation, community spirit, and eco-consciousness, "The Twins" stand tall, providing a glimpse into a future where housing is not just about shelter, but also about shared dreams and a harmonious way of life.

By Liliana Alvarez

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