Our latest issue features a number of different views on how to live in urban environments. High land prices and the understandable desire to live close to work and minimise commuting means architects are having to be increasingly ingenious about how to create liveable space on challenging, compact sites. This brought to mind another pair of city houses we featured as finalists in last year's Home of the Year award, the Whare Mahanga/Twin Houses by Scarlet Architects, photographed by Patrick Reynolds.

The houses are the white buildings at the centre of this picture. They're owned by architects Jane Aimer (whose family lives in the left-hand side of the pair) and Lindley Naismith (who lives with her partner John Balasoglou in the right-hand house). The houses are actually part of a small community: Lindley's parents live in the red cottage with white verandah, which Lindley renovated a few years ago, and the new homes were designed to encourage interactions between the occupants. This shot shows the back yard of Jane's home, with the white slider open to Lindley's back yard.

In many ways, the homes are like modern, elevated versions of terrace houses, with the staircases forming ingenious light wells in the centre. The rooms are located at alternating half-levels on the way up the stairs.