Auckland architects Lindy and Colin Leuschke have lived in many houses throughout their lives, but their most recent move was into a Ponsonby apartment. With a beach house to escape to in the weekends, they decided it was the perfect time to downsize their city home. They got rid of a lot of their possessions and haven’t looked back. “Simplifying our house and lives has opened up more opportunities for us to do the things we want to do, rather than the things we have to do,” says Lindy.
With a growing population and rising house prices, downsizing and medium density housing is gathering momentum, maybe even changing the Kiwi quarter acre dream forever. We caught up with Lindy to get her thoughts on this changing landscape, and to get some design ideas from their stylish apartment.
Q+A with Lindy Leuschke:
Your decision to downsize and simply your life is in line with the concepts of minimalism and ‘smaller living’ currently gathering momentum. I guess this is also a natural reaction to New Zealand’s growing population and housing prices. As an architect, what changes in housing are you noticing and what do you think is driving them?
We’re becoming a much bigger, more complex, urban city and I love all that. It’s a far more interesting, cosmopolitan place to live in. I think we need to reassess our quarter acre dream and I think that there are different types of accommodation at different stages of your life. If you want to live closer to the city you need to consider living in smaller houses, whether that be terraced housing or apartments. And if you want the quarter acre you possibly have to live further out (unless you have a lot of money).
It’s about choices. We’re realising now that we now have choices. One house for life, while it may work for some, it doesn’t have to be the norm.
If you were to predict Auckland in 20/30 years’ time, how do you think it will have changed further?
Hopefully the inner city will be more dense and there will be less pulled further out. The big problem at the moment is the sprawl. The sprawl is terrible because it causes us to have more traffic, longer wait times. Whereas if you look at more mature cities, they have far more dense living in the city and that means that public transport is more viable.
In your Ponsonby apartment you chose to install an Escea DL fireplace. Can you talk us through why you decided on, firstly a fireplace, and secondly, an Escea DL?
Partly ambience and partly because they actually do function. Some of the fires are purely for looks but we like our Escea because it actually functions. Sometimes you don’t need the ducted heat, sometimes you just want the little bit of heat in a certain area.
I chose Escea because I love the fact that its New Zealand made. I always push Escea over other fires because of the fact that it’s made here. It’s really good for NZ for the economy, good for carbon miles. If local is competitive, local is always best.
As an architect you have a lot of experience with apartments, can you give us your best tips for someone wanting to design the interior?
If you can limit the palette of materials to as few as possible, it ends up being the most dynamic. I think with apartments they’re quite 2-dimensional, whereas a house is 3-dimensional. So you actually have less to play with, which means you have to create more drama and interest through contrast. That’s where you start to get architectural spaces.
Good design should always consider privacy when it’s necessary, such as the bathroom. It’s just consideration of private areas as opposed to public areas.