A steel staircase, deep foundations and a cantilevered spa pool were just three feats requiring major engineering for this home

With deep, deep foundations, great street presence and a build height respectful of rear neighbours, this home responds to its environment in several ways

​​​​​​​Interesting and varied window shapes, a facade that gray
​​​​​​​Interesting and varied window shapes, a facade that steps in and out, and cladding in Turkish marble, white plaster and deep bronze aluminium fins all combine to make this home, designed by Jessop Architects, visually appealing while also downplaying its size.

So with the existing house levelled and architectural plans ready for a brand new home, how would it be to discover a deep underground silt layer that implies eye-watering additional foundation costs to get the house on a firm footing? This was just one tricky aspect of the creation of this clean-lined, harbour view residence.

Designed by architect Darren Jessop with input from owners Quenton and Gwen Dowdell and landscaping by Fiona Webster, this home is on a corner section that has street presence in two directions.

The owners wanted a refined home that naturally made the most of the site’s stunning water views. It also needed to offer plenty of room and privacy so Quenton’s mother could live there independently.

To this end, Jessop created a dynamic three-level home with a private, easy-access ground floor which includes living spaces, a bedroom and a three-car garage. 

The mid level has a lounge, the master suite, other bedrooms, and deck while the top floor – blessed with the best views – has the kitchen, dining, main living space and deck.

The architect and owners decided to stay within the current accepted height limits of 8m, instead of waiting for an up-and-coming 16m height limit, which would have ruined neighbourly relations.

While, the home is still substantial in size, strategically stepped planter boxes and other mitigating landscaping provide interest to both street facades and break down the home’s size visually.

“The owners had fallen in love with a striking Turkish marble and this features on various facade elements and the pool surround. The stone ideally complements the other facade materials – plaster and dark bronze aluminium fins,” says Jessop.

The pool also has a weir on three sides, echoing the stepped nature of the facade.

This house was only possible with great engineering feats underpinning the design. Much as the living spaces are given optimum height and position, so, too was the pool raised, with a heavy steel structure underpinning it. 

Having the pool at mid level meant it is accessed straight off the mid level deck, increasing its ready use and access to views. Plus this meant the pool is seen from the top deck.

The driveway entrance is another area of extreme engineering with the original house plan not designed for the deep silt-defying foundations. 

The approach was taken to keep to the new home’s designed footprint but cantilever the structure, spa pool included, over the drive to allow for foundations in that area – one of six anchor points in the home.

Other anchor points were around the off-circle rear drum that protrudes beyond the main footprint of the home. This is home to another major build undertaking.

“The feature staircase seen on entry to the home, is one steel structure and due to council restrictions to closing the road we actually had to crane it in right over the top of the house from the side street,” says Quenton Dowdell. 

“This required one massive crane, as you can imagine.”

The stair and accompanying lift play key roles in the home’s flow. They make the upper floors readily accessible from the ground-level living spaces and getting to the top-floor entertainment spaces directly from the entry equally easy.

In terms of the home’s interiors, the design defers to the blue water views. Most walls are a demure white while the public floor areas include visual vibrancy thanks to the choice of rich Matai floors.

With sliders opening to both the decks, blinds dropping from in the ceiling, and glass balustrades, there’s little to obscure the views. 

There are barbecues on both decks and heaters set into the cedar soffits, another feature that’s seen from the street.

Credit list

Darren Jessop, Jessop Architects; design team, Karl Newby and Vance Bentley
Landscape consultant
Dave Paddy, Nikau Landscapes
Project managers
Johnathan King
Kitchen design
Jessop Architects
Project engineers
Structure Design
STO plaster system, marble
Window/door joinery and hardware
NuLook Kumeu Aluminium; Dulux Powder-coat, in Dark Bronze
Double Roller Blinds; Sunscreen Décor View, colour Expresso; Thermoblock, colours Kahu and Kokao, from SP Blinds
Ensuite shower – European Ceramics Lipica, polished; ensuite vanity wall – Artedomus Girgio Marmi, polished and bricked
Various; Inlite pendants from ECC Lighting
Kitchen cabinetry
Island – Prime Natural veneer, sapele, ¼-cut; perimeter cabinetry and rear of island, paint lacquer – Resene Half Wan White
Aquis, from Burns & Ferrall
Ovens, hob, dishasher, extraction unit
Waste disposal
Master ensuite vanity
Painted – Prime Natural Veneer sapele
Toilet, basin, bath
From Metrix
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Runner-up
Landscape designer
Fiona Webster, Landscape Design
Quenton and Gwen Dowdell
Pool, design and build
Tranquility Pools
Kitchen manufacturer
DJS Cabinetry
Nova Construction
Specialist glass
E Glass, from Metro Glass
General – Timber Heart Matai; entrance – Oriental cross-cut limestone, polished, from SCE Stone; master bedroom – Artisian Collective, Verve, by Bremworth, colour Moonrock
Walls, general – Resene Half Wan White; bedroom/ground floor lounge – Resene Quarter Truffle; master ensuite – Resene Half Truffle; ceilings, doors, architraves, skirting – Resene Half Wan White
Central heating/cooling
Internal door hardware
Star Galaxy granite, from Granite Benchtops
Dornbracht, from Metrix
Fridge and Cooldrawers
Fisher & Paykel
Outdoor bbqs
Fisher & Paykel, from DCS Appliances
Vanity top
Diamond Stone in Supreme White
Hot water systems
Rheem TP02

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Jamie Cobel

02 Feb, 2020

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