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The Great Compression

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In Auckland, New Zealand, architect Michael O’Sullivan and his partner Melissa Schollum braved a miniscule budget, withering looks from friends, and nasty nail-gun injuries to design and build their perfectly proportioned family home.

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  Auckland’s Mangere Mountain is a dormant volcano that rises above the shore of the Manukau Harbor. It was once a site of strategic importance to early Maori tribes, and development is now prohibited on its cone.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    Auckland’s Mangere Mountain is a dormant volcano that rises above the shore of the Manukau Harbor. It was once a site of strategic importance to early Maori tribes, and development is now prohibited on its cone.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  In the suburb on the mountain’s lower slopes, Michael O’Sullivan and his sons Seamus and Finbar exchange motorcycle tips outside the compact, innovative home O’Sullivan designed.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    In the suburb on the mountain’s lower slopes, Michael O’Sullivan and his sons Seamus and Finbar exchange motorcycle tips outside the compact, innovative home O’Sullivan designed.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  Melissa Schollum stands at the brass island bench in the kitchen. O’Sullivan, who designed and built the house, spent many hours creating the wooden joinery (including the tall, slender windows and their timber shutters) and the intricate ceiling. The cupboards under the marble bench in the kitchen are made of glass to allow more light into the space. The dining table and chairs were designed by Sam Haughton of IMO.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    Melissa Schollum stands at the brass island bench in the kitchen. O’Sullivan, who designed and built the house, spent many hours creating the wooden joinery (including the tall, slender windows and their timber shutters) and the intricate ceiling. The cupboards under the marble bench in the kitchen are made of glass to allow more light into the space. The dining table and chairs were designed by Sam Haughton of IMO.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  Four-year-old Seamus relaxes in the living room, whose plywood walls 
are covered with family photographs.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    Four-year-old Seamus relaxes in the living room, whose plywood walls are covered with family photographs.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  The cedar weatherboard ceiling in the living pavilion features triangular recesses for lightbulbs.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    The cedar weatherboard ceiling in the living pavilion features triangular recesses for lightbulbs.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  In the kitchen, plates by ceramic artist Rachel Carley decorate the window mullions.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    In the kitchen, plates by ceramic artist Rachel Carley decorate the window mullions.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  The reflectivity of the brass kitchen island makes it seem to dematerialize.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    The reflectivity of the brass kitchen island makes it seem to dematerialize.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  Outside on the deck, one-year-old Mary and three-year-old Finbar enjoy a snack at the kid-size table and chairs Michael designed and made for them.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    Outside on the deck, one-year-old Mary and three-year-old Finbar enjoy a snack at the kid-size table and chairs Michael designed and made for them.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  The tiny budget still allowed room for some strategic splurges, such as the vivid green Verde Ming marble in the house’s only bathroom.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    The tiny budget still allowed room for some strategic splurges, such as the vivid green Verde Ming marble in the house’s only bathroom.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  In the kids’ room, Seamus climbs the bunk beds he shares with his siblings.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    In the kids’ room, Seamus climbs the bunk beds he shares with his siblings.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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  The family shares an alfresco lunch with Ikimau Ikimau, a friendly neighbor who helped build the house. The aluminum weatherboard cladding was custom-designed by O’Sullivan.  Photo by: Patrick Reynolds
    The family shares an alfresco lunch with Ikimau Ikimau, a friendly neighbor who helped build the house. The aluminum weatherboard cladding was custom-designed by O’Sullivan.

    Photo by: Patrick Reynolds

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