Contemporary new home replaces home demolished following Christchurch earthquake

Modern new home in Christchurch features concrete panel construction, large, open-plan family living area, covered terrace, outdoor kitchen

Basalt pavers with a flamed finish provide a architecture, elevation, facade, home, house, property, real estate, residential area, gray, black
Basalt pavers with a flamed finish provide a non-slip surface on this terrace, part of a new house designed by Wilson and Hill Architects. Pavers lead to the pool on the far left, which has a glass fence.

Keep calm and carry on, says the popular poster, and that's just what the owners of this property had to do following the devastating Christchurch earthquakes.

Their old weatherboard home on the site needed to be demolished after the earthquakes, along with their plans for a major renovation. But the need to build a new house did provide an opportunity to improve on what went before, says local architect Chris Wilson of Wilson and Hill Architects, who had already been contracted to design the original remodel.

"Having already planned a new kitchen for the family, which we didn't have a chance to build, I knew what they wanted and what would work for their busy lifestyle," Wilson says. "But firstly, our attention was focused on siting the house in a different position. We decided to move it back from the street to provide better access and space for cars at the front. This also brought the house closer to a picturesque stream that runs along the rear of the property the stream can now be seen from inside the house."

Wilson says the house has a precast concrete panel construction to convey a sense of scale.

"Houses are often built from small modules, such as bricks, but we wanted a material that would articulate the sheer size of this house. The concrete brings a sense of solidity, mass and permanence at the front the panels extend past the top of the building, so they appear to sandwich the roof, which makes the house seem taller. And at the side they wrap right along the house, reinforcing the strong, solid feel."

he living areas in this contemporary house include architecture, ceiling, floor, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, room, gray
he living areas in this contemporary house include a media room with bespoke cabinet. Design by Wilson and Hill Architects.

Concrete also features inside. The slab for the first floor has high acoustic performance, which helps to separate the children's area upstairs from the living areas and parents' retreat on the ground floor. And the concrete has passive thermal benefits, absorbing the heat from the sun in winter to release it in the evening.

In terms of what lies beyond, the front of the house gives little away. Narrow windows frame a large concrete panel, with frosted glass providing privacy for the master suite behind.

A pivoting front door opens to the entry within a void that is almost two storeys high. Wilson says the ceiling levels vary throughout the house, depending on the space.

"The changes in height make the scale a little harder to read, which is interesting visually there is a sense of ambiguity," the architect says.

A dark-stained timber wall defines one side of the key circulation route down to the family living space at the rear, where the kitchen occupies the central space.

The tall pconcrete panels at the front of architecture, building, commercial building, corporate headquarters, elevation, facade, home, house, property, real estate, residential area, sky, blue
The tall pconcrete panels at the front of this house appear detached from the sandwiched roof element. The house, which was designed by architect Chris Wilson, replaces an older weatherboard house destroyed in the Christchurch earthquakes.

"This kitchen is similar to our original plan," says Wilson. "It is literally the heart of the home we wrapped the house around it, so the kitchen is a seamless part of the architecture. The entire house flows, both visually and practically. All the walls are white, so the kitchen cabinetry is also white. But we specified a high-gloss lacquer to give the cabinets a reflective quality and to make them different to the walls."

The interior designer specified warm neutral furnishings to complement the monochromatic architectural palette.

"The downstairs area is more of an adult space, so this is a little moody, with an Italian feel, while the children's area upstairs has a brighter, slightly Scandinavian look," she says. "There was not a lot of furniture we could re-use from the original house the contemporary architecture needed a more minimalist interior. There are some bespoke furniture pieces, such as the cabinets in the living areas."

Both the family living area and formal lounge open up to a large, covered terrace with an outdoor kitchen and gas fireplace. Operable louvres in the roof above the deck can be opened to let in the sun in winter, and closed to keep the area shaded through the summer.

Credit list

Christopher Wilson NZIA,
James MacKay Builders
Window and door joinery
APL Metro Series by Hagley Aluminium
American white oak; honed basalt
Hartnell Coolheat; Central Heating New Zealand
Audiovisual systems
Teltrac Communications
Bathroom tiles
Brymac Tiles
Interior designer
Philippa Keenan, Philippa Keenan Interior Design
Kitchen and joinery manufacturer
General Joinery
Aluminium composite panel; Resene Rockcote
SCE Stone
PJK Design; Bauhaus, Trenzeater
Kitchen cabinets
Oven and hob
Vanity basin

Story by: Colleen Hawkes

Photography by: Jamie Cobel

20 Jul, 2016

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