Living onthe edge

Cantilevered out from the side of a cliff, this house was designed as a hideawaywith a beautiful outlook
View of a window architecture, blue, daylighting, door, facade, glass, house, window, teal, black
View of a window

Finding a site with a peaceful vista is always a coup when you're building a new home to be used as a retreat away from the rat race. But designing a soothing atmosphere that maximises the outlook requires a lot of planning and care.

In addition to panoramic sea views, the steeply sloping site pictured here provided a number of challenges for architects Jonty Rout and Tim Dagg of Sheppard & Rout Architects, who were commissioned to design this contemporary family home.

The first was to ensure great views from both the living spaces and the private areas of the house. The solution is a design based on interconnecting horizontal forms, rather than a stacked structure with full-height windows. This means virtually every room in the house has access to the view.

"The house is built on two levels with a glazed, triple-height entry tower in the middle," says Dagg. "This tower is the link from the upper to the lower level. It also defines the intersection between these two forms."

The upper level houses a study and the master suite. On the level below are the open-plan living, dining and kitchen, a laundry, two guest bedrooms, a second bathroom and a guest toilet.

View of this living area home, interior design, sea, sky, window, white, black
View of this living area

With the kitchen opening directly onto the living areas, it was necessary to address the issue of messy meal preparation. A large walk-in pantry behind the kitchen also houses a food-preparation area and a wine cellar.

While the abundance of glazing in all of the living areas opens the house up to the natural surroundings, it also attracts the sun.

"The house is situated on the hilltop above a valley, which has its own little microclimate," says Dagg. "It faces northeast, enjoying all-day sun and is fairly sheltered from the easterly winds, so it tends to get very warm."

To minimise glare and solar gain into the house, green-tinted glass was used for the windows. While the living areas have no window treatments, the bedrooms, ensuite and study were fitted with concealed, translucent roller blinds to provide solar control during the day and privacy at night.

Dagg describes the architectural style of the house as clean-lined and welcoming. In keeping with its simple forms, the palette of materials was kept unfussy and natural. The house is clad in black-stained cedar weatherboards a timber the owners were always keen to use. Black Colorsteel roofing, concrete blocks and copper downpipes were also chosen for their unobtrusive look.

View of the living area, wooden flooring, large ceiling, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, room, table, window, orange
View of the living area, wooden flooring, large grey woolen rug, black sofas, wooden coffee table, cream walls, artwork, flower feature, large paneled windows and dining area beyond, Architects: Jonty Rout and Tim Dagg, Sheppard & Rout Architects, NZIA, Interior designer: Sheppard & Rout Architects, US2101 Home & Architectural.

"One of our challenges was to ensure the detailing honoured the design's simple, pure forms," he says. "For example, finding a way to conceal the gutters took some time. We also wanted to design the windows so they slid like a door and the balustrades in front were made from a simple pane of toughened glass on a steel frame."

This uncluttered feel carries through to the interior, where open, light spaces and a sense of volume are a key feature of the design.

In addition to full-height windows, all the main rooms have sloping ceilings of varying heights, but on the same pitch. These reflect the slope of the roof and were a way to stay honest to the simple form of the home's exterior, says the architect.

White walls, neutral furnishings and matai floors characterise the living spaces and focus the eye on the view. The bedrooms are carpeted and feature the same limited palette, while elsewhere in the house the floor is finished in exposed ground concrete coated with a clear sealer.

The living areas open out to a sheltered concrete terrace, which contains an outdoor kitchen and a spa pool behind a glazed fence. Stepping down a level is a timber deck that will eventually lead to a pool.

Dec 06, 2004

Credit list

Interior designer
Kitchen designer
Window/door joinery
Door hardware
Sopers Hardware
Corrugated Colorcote from Calder Stewart; grey butynol from Brown and Andrews
Matai; exposed ground concrete from Heritage Floors
Rexel Lighting
Home audio
Strawberry Sound
Kitchen cabinets
Spray lacquered
Glass mosaic tiles from Designa Ceramics
Custom made
Shower stall, flooring and wallcoverings
Tiles from Designa Ceramics
Tower Tech
Cosmic Architect from Smail & Co
The Lily Bud
Bushnell Builders
Kitchen manufacturer
Window hardware
Stained cedar boards
Designa Ceramics
Electric underfloor
Belle Interiors
Ilve Teppenyaki
Waste unit
Shower fittings
Hand basin
Zero 100
Hot water system
Window treatments
We know the specialists