House Of The Week
A floating white cloud over a secret black box is design director David Ponting's description of his solution to clients wanting a contemporary home on a confined inner Auckland suburban section. The owners say their home is simply three intersecting cubes, a brilliant design concept.
Whatever the words, everyone agrees that the build is impressive and highly successful from all points of view.
The clients were downsizing yet still in need of space but wanting manageable and modern.
"The brief was for a contemporary sculptured solution represented as an object more than a house," Ponting explains. "They wanted clean, crisp, simple, pared back, a well-organised house, optimising every square metre."
The build is over two levels, with the white painted vertical cedar bedroom and bathroom box upstairs. The basalt and glass living box, with the kitchen dining and living area, is below, along with the third box, which includes the zinc clad entry, garage, laundry and guest powder room. Each of the cubes intersects, creating an impression that the white over black boxes are wrapped by the zinc.
From the outset the owners regarded Ponting's design concept as brilliant and were intent on ensuring the macro design was not lost within the details.
Guests arrive to a slot in a wall of black and are drawn into a space walled by the vertical cedar-clad cloud box of bedrooms accessed via stairs. A wide sweep of stairs draws guests into the pavilion under the cloud, the living box connected through glass doors to surrounding greenery and a very private outdoor decked space that seamlessly joins the garden.
"The deck has a northwest aspect," says Ponting," so, full sun, yet with the cloud box over the top there's a sense of shelter. We had to massage the plan carefully to achieve a shape that's wrapped up in such a small space."
Visual interest is embellished with a reflecting pool and the garden that wraps the deck and connects beyond to grassed areas.
"There's a calm quality to the outdoor area with the deck platform hovering over the garden, the build is all about connecting with nature, the doors slide back to open the living to the outside, you're not locked away at all."
The owners say Ponting has done "a superb job". After living in the house for two years they report the kitchen, hidden behind dark grey doors with only the four-metre island bench sink and hob visible, has proved outstandingly functional.
Design Director: David Ponting, Ponting Fitzgerald
Build cost: Around $1 million
Size: 300 sq.m
Builder: Mark Dawson, Architectural Homes Ltd
Materials: Zinc Metal, Cedar Weatherboard & Basalt Stone cladding with APL, double glazed sliders and joinery.
Energy efficiency: Passive solar control teamed with high insulation specifications.
Done right: It really does work, the whole thing hangs together, in a symbiotic relationship. There's an uplifting sense of light and openness. We love the complete seamlessness between the living space and the deck and garden - it's like living in a conservatory. We are also very happy with the very generous amount of storage space; we have a dedicated storage room upstairs stacked with Lundia shelving, plus there are two large alcoves off the garage.
Done wrong: In the bathrooms we used a dark charcoal grey tile and it water stains, so in hindsight we should have used a lighter or slightly patterned tile.
Unexpected: We were surprised by how warm it is upstairs, it's almost too hot in summer. It's so well insulated, you never have to have a heater on upstairs, ever.
Recommend: Get a smart architect, no matter how good you think you are they can take it to the next level. I like living and working in spaces that are uplifting because they really do affect your mood. Do your research on materials and fittings and shop around. You don't need to spend silly money to get good product if you put the time in. Always allow at least 10 - 15 per cent above what you think its going to cost. Get the aspect of the land right, top consider how the sun is moving and how the neighbours are situated in terms of planning your outlook.
Next time: I'd do it all over again in a flash and I probably wouldn't change much. You have to make sacrifices along the way. Don't be scared to say 'no we can't afford it, so what's the alternative'. Good architects think smartly about what the alternatives can be and often come up with a more exciting solution as a result of being forced into a corner.
Next time we'd get there a lot quicker because we know better what does and doesn't work and so we'd be more efficient about the process.
- © Fairfax NZ News