Safe Houses

Homes that share a common purpose in making the lives of their occupants better are the focus of a new book by Debra Milla

Safe Houses

Homes that share a common purpose in making the lives of their occupants better are the focus of a new book by Debra Milla

Home. It’s a simple little word, but one loaded with meaning, and never more so than during the disquieting events of a worldwide pandemic. Previously, it would have been hard to fathom being told to “stay home” to save lives, or that returning home to reunite with loved ones would no longer be as simple as boarding a plane, or that for months it would be impossible to travel freely between houses in different parts of the country. 


Our homes were tested in new and unexpected ways as government restrictions saw work-places and schools closed to curb the spread of Covid-19. Becoming both a refuge and a cage, houses were adapted as classrooms and offices, and places for the sick and their contacts to isolate. They became the centre of our diminished world and, more than ever, were called on to make us feel comforted and safe. 

The homes featured in this book range in size, purpose, locality and design. They span small houses on suburban sites to those blessed with arresting mountain views and expansive coastal vistas. Some were constrained by modest budgets, while others were endowed with generous ones. But, despite their differences, they share a common purpose in making the lives of their occupants better regardless of  what outside challenges exist. They are a place of solace and enclosure, and of security and togetherness.

They also showcase original and considered architecture that aims to enhance not only the experience of those who love in them, but also surrounding communities and the environments in which they are built. They demonstrate the value of good design and, in particular, the contribution of architecture in the home context. 

The expanded role of home during the Covid-19 pandemic provided the catalyst for this book, but surely at any time – and perhaps now more than ever – cleverly designed and articulated houses deserve to be celebrated. 

Architecture at Home: Houses for New Zealanders to live, work and play

Available from thisishere.nz/shop

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