Sepia Lane: an architectural marvel on a steep slope.

Our client’s ambitious residential project on a former clay brick quarry site posed some unique challenges. Our strong existing relationship with the client led to our team providing the geotechnical reporting and structural design for their two-story architecturally designed house on a steep hillside. We have previously worked with the client to develop the rest of the site into a residential subdivision and older persons housing.

The Challenge

Our client’s dream home was cut into the hillside, posing structural complexities. They required a large open garage with easy access, a covered parking area formed by the suspended concrete floor of the balcony above, and living area with balcony that made the most of the panoramic views. The site's steep slope, limited parking, and the need for extensive earthworks made this a challenging design.

The Solution

1. Collaborative approach:

Our in-house geotechnical and structural teams coordinated effectively, allowing us to tailor the geotechnical investigation to test specific areas of the site. This streamlined the process, allowing the geotechnical reporting and structural design to be done simultaneously.

2. Communication:

Our collaborative approach, both between our teams and with other project stakeholder, meant any issues with the architect’s concept design were identified and resolved early, reducing design time. We worked closely with our client and their architect to ensure the structural design maintained the desired open spaces while providing adequate retaining for the hillside.

Sepia Lane, Christchurch

3. Structural innovations:

Key structural challenges were addressed, such as incorporating steel portal frames to support large window and door openings on the first floor, maintaining the stunning views across Christchurch. The side wall of the garage acts as a retaining wall almost 3 metres high against the hillside. This was a key design element of the house, allowing our client to have a large open garage and parking area under the house. This presented a particular challenge for the structural design.

4. Geotechnical reporting:

Our geotechnical team ensured site stability despite a 5-meter cut into the hillside directly below the property. Their reporting provided crucial parameters for the structural design, ensuring the safety and integrity of the building. The site’s unique site location required careful consideration of drainage to prevent erosional issues affecting the foundations in the future.

The Outcome: Shape Home

Our collaborative and proactive approach, combined with in-house expertise, streamlined the design process, reduced costs, and ensured the successful construction of an architecturally unique home on a challenging hillside location. The project is a testament to the power of early issue resolution and close collaboration among stakeholders. While working with our client on several projects we have formed a good relationship with their builder who provided feedback on our designs. This collaboration and two-way feedback helps enhance our future design projects.

  • Private client
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Structural Engineering