In 2010, Ben Mitchell-Anyon, Sally Ogle, and Tim Gittos took out a loan, quit their day jobs, and embarked on their inaugural project together as Patch Work Architecture. The assignment was simple: Find an inexpensive plot of land and build themselves a small house. “We were all keen to build something exciting and experimental, yet modest and simple at the same time,” says Mitchell-Anyon.
They purchased a hilly plot in Whanganui, a sleepy provincial city located two and a half hours north of Wellington, New Zealand, and kicked off construction in 2011. During the next year, the trio (with the help of their architect friend Caroline Robertson) designed and built everything in the house, from the structure down to the cabinetry, tweaking and modifying details along the way. Thanks to their sweat equity, the residence came in at about $130 per square foot and taught them the value of onsite decision-making, which will inform the budding firm’s future projects. “There are things that you can never really know from a computer model or a drawing,” says Mitchell-Anyon.