Contained within

With its bold geometric form and dark cedar cladding, this modern home nestles comfortably and privately into a small suburban site
Story by: Lori Nims and Photography by: Jamie Cobeldick
View of living room which features a day home, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, window, gray
View of living room which features a day bed and other furnishings, zebra pelt rug, polished concrete floors, fireplace with concrete hearth and built-in concrete shelving, lighting, doors and windows, accessories.

What at first seems like a challenge can sometimes be the catalyst for a great result. Local council regulations and a small site can inspire rather than restrict the architecture of a home.

Architects Wilson and Hill were approached by a couple who wanted to build a new home behind the existing one on their subdivided property.

Although it is limited in size, the site's orientation is excellent, as the north-facing side also backs onto a public park, says architect David Hill.

"But it was an exercise in constraint," he says. "As well as planning regulations, there were privacy issues because of close boundaries with neighbours. Alongside the vision for a modern home, the design also had to meet the demands of a family of four."

These factors resulted in a strong geometric design a framed box that contains a compact, two-storey dwelling with living areas that enjoy all-day sun and park views.

View of an upper level passageway which features ceiling, floor, interior design, room, wall, gray
View of an upper level passageway which features a panel of glass in the floor.

A stained cedar exterior frames the structure. Hill says the owner sourced 6m-long boards that allowed a more streamlined surface with fewer joins. Thick and dark, the cladding reinforces the solidity of the form. Deep overhangs at the front and rear provide protection from the sun and rain, as well as obscuring sightlines from adjacent properties.

To maintain privacy, the facade, which faces the existing house, is fitted with small windows and a large cedar panel in front of the entrance. A projecting form houses the stairwell, with glazed walls on either side to let light in.

At the rear of the house, full-length windows and sliding doors open to a terrace and the park beyond, bathing the living areas in natural light. From inside, the overhang defines the outlook.

The interior continues the contemporary theme, with an open-plan living space and a raw material palette. Concrete is predominant throughout it is featured on the terrace, the interior ground-level floors, and internal structural walls. As well as providing texture, these walls and floors act as heat sinks, retaining solar energy and releasing it back into the house as the temperature cools. Underfloor heating keeps the house warm in winter.

The internal concrete block columns also delineate living areas within the open plan.

Exterior View of the rear outdoor area featuring architecture, daylighting, house, interior design, white, gray
Exterior View of the rear outdoor area featuring landscaping, paving, lighting.

Wall panels of translucent glass, a cantilevered tread staircase with a stainless steel rod balustrade and glass floor panels all help keep the interior of the house light.

The pared-back interior design includes built-in cabinetry, which maintains the clean lines. Restrained colours and subtle textural contrasts befit the contemporary style of the architecture.

However, furniture and furnishings belong to new owners, as the house was sold not long after completion. Its open-plan layout and raw material palette make an effective backdrop for their extensive collection of art and accessories, including mid 20th-century designer furniture pieces, which formerly featured in their apartment in New York.

Oct 05, 2009

Credit list

JE Dean Ltd
Butynol by Thomas Roofing
Doors and windows
Kitchen manufacturer
Dining room chandelier
Vertical cedar shiplap boarding from ITM Kaiapoi
Ground-level flooring
Inside - polished concrete; outside - exposed aggregate
Custom-made cabinetry
Dining table
Custom-made crystal-infused plastic resin top
Owners' collection
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