LocationChristchurch, New Zealand
Landscape DesignStufkens + Chambers Architects
Text description provided by the architects. The client’s simple brief called for a large, open-plan house with a palette of natural materials capable of accommodating a growing family and numerous guests. This business couple who commissioned this house were looking for a dwelling that would work on a number of levels. Firstly, they wanted a functional home. Secondly, they wanted a place to socialise with friends and business acquaintances. Thirdly, they wanted a place of spiritual calm and clarity. Challenges included site constraints and building a contemporary home in a street populated by more traditional homes.Our three-story house is composed of three separate buildings, joined by transparent links wrapped around an open courtyard. The living pavilions can be fully opened up to encourage airflow and to provide views from the courtyard through to the sea. It incorporates five bedrooms, several living areas, study, gym and adjacent lap pool and spa, a wine cellar, and multiple garaging.
Strong organic concrete tilt panel walls are combined with white coloured panelised cladding, plastered walls and stained cedar, carefully composed to provide a palette of texture and colour. The design specifies the use of low VOC carpets, paints, adhesives and sealants for the indoor environment. Garages are extra large encouraging the use and storage of cycles to add to sustainable transport. Dedicated service areas allow ease of council recycle bins. The design incorporates a variety of passive and heat recovery systems to reduce energy consumption and increase occupant comfort levels. An open-minded client, a commitment to contemporary architectural language, the careful use of natural materials, precise planning and detailing, and an expansion of the brief into landscaping and lighting all contributed to a successful result.
The house is notable for the way in which it explores the process of arrival and movement through the spaces, in a deliberate and sequential way. We used a limited natural palette of materials throughout - walnut timber veneer, timber flooring, exposed aggregate concrete walls, frosted glass and simple white interiors - to create a timeless, modern building, appropriate to its urban location.
The kitchen is the axis of the living areas and was given special treatment with the use of light and rich walnut veneer, design elements that continue throughout the house. Differential levels divide the open plan living area and entry flow, which takes in the views with an open void featuring a transparent bridge link to the north facing terrace.
The media/lounge room on the ground floor is a sound-proof room with a mixture of solid and transparent walls, which encompass a feature air-conditioned wine store. Automated solar blinds are augmented with localised, carefully-concealed air-conditioning and double glazing to achieve high levels of comfort in warm afternoon sun conditions. The ground floor slab, wall and roof construction are all heavily insulated to limit heat loss and heat gain, and create an even living environment.