Optical illusion

The designers of this holiday home used changes in the volume of adjoining rooms to connect them spatially, but separate them visually

In this holiday house, the architects created focal ceiling, daylighting, house, interior design, living room, real estate, room, gray, black
In this holiday house, the architects created focal points in the sitting room by using the symmetry of the television and the fireplace.

Discussing internal volume sounds like an analysis of a room's acoustic qualities. But the volume of a room has nothing to do with sound. It is volume measured not in decibels, but cubic metres in other words, differing volumes of space, created by ceilings of differing heights and shapes.

The architects at Modern Architecture Partners Ltd, Kerry Mason and Rebecca McLaughlan, employed this principle when designing this house at Millbrook Resort.

"The clients' brief was for modern lines simple, stylish and uncluttered. They were inspired by another house we had done at the same resort, so we used that as a starting point," says Mason.

As with most resorts or communities, there was a building code in place that dictated what the exterior of the house must look like. This particular code called for gables, which offer the opportunity for tall interior spaces. Often, the gable form is underplayed with a flat ceiling, but the architects chose to play up this volume. The challenge then became how to define the adjoining spaces.

"The kitchen is a good example of this challenge. Logistically, you want it located adjacent to the main living spaces, but as a service space, you want to create a degree of separation, even if only perceptually. Lowering the kitchen ceiling achieved this, and gave the space a more intimate feel. It also has practical benefits, in that it houses the air conditioning and extraction units," says McLaughlan.

Keeping an area open but still maintaining individuallydefined spaces can be a tricky proposition, especially when you are trying to keep the material palette constant throughout.

The window to the mountains provides natural light architecture, bathroom, daylighting, home, interior design, product design, room, sink, white
The window to the mountains provides natural light to the bathroom, and adds a view without sacrifacing the homeowners privacy.

"It is possible to create character through marked changes in the colour and texture of the materials, but we prefer to do it through subtle elements, like the surface finishes and the ceiling height," she says.

These subtle variations are well illustrated in the lounge.

"We wanted the lounge to have sense of formality, so it is a lot darker than the rest of the house. This was achieved through the use of Waitaha schist on the fireplace, coupled with dark timber ceilings. The paint is a darker shade than the adjacent master bedroom a subtle shift to indicate that one is a more formal space, and the other is more relaxed and private."

The house was designed to serve two purposes. Primarily it had to function as a cosy holiday dwelling for the homeowners, but they also wanted the flexibility to convert the house into a more appropriate format to accommodate guests, especially the couple's young grandchildren.

The architects achieved this flexibility by using sliding doors and a pavilion layout for the house. Because most of the time the owners are there alone, they didn't want the house to feel big and empty. So the guest bunk room is compartmentalised from the rest of the house. Not only does this make the house feel more cosy, but it also cuts down on maintenance and heating.

Moving through the house, the details become apparent. McLaughlan says it is these features that give the house a sense of depth.

The loft studio was an area that was architecture, attic, ceiling, daylighting, floor, home, house, interior design, loft, real estate, roof, room, wood, brown, gray
The loft studio was an area that was hard to fully appreciate off the plans.

"It has so many hidden gems. The bunk room, which is often quite a utilitarian space, has a real sense of excitement about it. The wine cellar, which is only a little bigger than a cupboard, is dark and timber-lined, with sparkly little lights for identifying the bottles. There is also a glass floor in the study. All these elements are almost doll house-like, because they are such small, intricately detailed insertions," she says.

The area of the house that exceeded the expectations of everyone, save perhaps architect Kerry Mason, was the loft studio, built as a space for the one of the homeowners to pursue her love of painting.

"This was the area that really came alive in the building. I'm not sure the homeowners, the project manager, or even myself, really understood what this space would look like from the plans. The result, with its inspirational view to the mountains of Central Otago, was a lot more charming than we imagined," says McLaughlan.

In any building project, especially one set in an extreme environment, the challenge is to integrate the location with the design of the house.

The bathroom is a good example of the way the view has been used to not only add natural light to the space, but also to anchor the house to its surroundings. Clearly, privacy is important in a bathroom, so framing the mountains in a window at the top of the wall is a good compromise.

Credit list

Project manager
Geoff Martin
Kitchen manufacturer
Lloyd's Joinery
Window and door hardware
Haro Parquet in African Oak
Southern Heat Limited
American white oak with a mirostain chocolate finish
Back-painted glass
Elica from
Fisher & Paykel
Shower fittings
Axor Uno
Bathroom tiling
Honed basalt from Artedomus
Paini Cox
Pozzi Ginori
Naylor Love
Entry tiling
Large format honed basalt from The Tile Shoppe
Master bedroom panels from Roylston House Boudoir
Turned-On Audio
Honed granite and stainless steel
Kitchen sink
Burns & Ferrall
Ilve freestanding
Waste disposal
Kaldewei freestanding
Traccia slim wash by Elementi
Hot water system

Story by: Trendsideas

23 Nov, 2007

Home kitchen bathroom commercial design

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