Strength of character

With its monolithic, sculptural form, this new house resembles an industrial loft in the midst of a conservative suburban neighbourhood

View of kitchen with stainless steel kitchen island, architecture, beam, ceiling, countertop, daylighting, house, interior design, kitchen, loft
View of kitchen with stainless steel kitchen island, wood veneer cabinetry, appliances, lighting.

Inspiring design is not dependent on dollars spent. Sometimes the reverse is true the architectural innovation is inversely proportional to the cost of the project.

Architect Richard Middleton of Novak + Middleton says there were many design considerations for this project. As well as providing a cost-effective solution, the design needed to take into account an adjacent main highway, rigorous town-planning constraints and the owners' desire for a contemporary look.

"The design brief called for a home and consulting studio for a couple in their 60s," Middleton says. "The house had to provide a strong sense of enclosure and privacy without compromising the site. The design also had to capture views over the nearby inlet and marina."

In addition, there was a need for planning flexibility in the way spaces could be used now and in the future.

"The conceptual starting point for this project was the desire to create a clear and simple form with good compositional strength," Middleton says.

Exterior view of entrance way featuring landscaping, glazing, architecture, door, home, house, real estate, black, white
Exterior view of entrance way featuring landscaping, glazing, roofing, steel cladding.

"The form of the house was conceived as a monolithic, sculptural structure that resembles an industrial loft in the midst of an ordinary suburban neighbourhood," the architect says.

"The basic plan divides the structure into two distinct primary forms over two levels. These two open-ended boxes give an indication of their internal functions through the use of solid elements and voids within the external fabric. There are large two-storey glazed panels in the public spaces and smaller, more discrete windows for the private areas. The two main volumes are complemented by two secondary forms a glazed central circulation zone and the garage."

With its dark Colorsteel cladding and small window insertions on the south side, the house effectively turns its back on the street.

"I wanted to create a hard look to the exterior," says the architect. "The steel gives the house a strong verticality, and provides an industrial look that reflects the transient nature of the highway beyond. It is also a visual barrier between the hard elements of the exterior and the warmth and richness of the interior."

This juxtaposition is enhanced by the west facade, which features recessed aluminium weatherboard cladding that appears as an insert in the dark portal.

view of open-plan living and kitchen area with ceiling, house, interior design, living room, loft, black, brown
view of open-plan living and kitchen area with dark charcol painted wall, couches and other furnishings, kitchen appliances, lighting.

Inside, solid timber beams and rafters define the open-plan family living area and provide a warm contrast to a sleek stainless steel island. The steel and timber stairs present a similar mix of materials.

Other materials providing a strong visual and textural contrast include polished concrete flooring and sleek, dark-stained timber-veneer kitchen cabinetry. The south wall in the living area is painted in a dark charcoal colour, which provides a dramatic backdrop for the owners' artworks. The dark elements wrap around the rear of the kitchen, helping to enclose the space and creating a sense of intimacy.

"The owners enjoy the simplicity of the house, and the play of light and dark elements," says Middleton. "While the walls on the south side are effectively closed down, the other walls are fully glazed and overlook a courtyard to the north."

The courtyard, which features an alfresco dining area, is tucked between the two main volumes of the house. This ensures it is largely protected from the traffic noise. A large concrete wall on the road side, extensive wall and ceiling insulation and double glazing on all windows also help keep the traffic at bay.

Credit list

AJ Wylie Construction
First Windows & Doors
Paints and varnishes
Kitchen manufacturer
Renalls Joinery
Ovens and dishwasher
NZIA Architecture Award
Steel by Aquaheat Industries
Window Treatments NZ
ECC Lighting
Dark-stained wood veneer
Stainless steel by Renalls Joinery

Story by: Trendsideas

16 Apr, 2009