Vive la différence

From the solid masonry construction and shuttered windows to the easy indoor-outdoor flow, this new home by Town & Country Residential offers a contemporary take on a European classic
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View of light-toned house with dark shutters.

In the past decade, New Zealand residential architecture has developed a strong and easily recognisable identity. But while houses are designed for the Kiwi lifestyle and climate, they also benefit from the age-old building materials used throughout Europe.

This solid masonry house, designed by Barry Northcott of Dimension Design and built by Town & Country Residential, has a Firth HotBloc construction. Warren Pointon of Town & Country Residential says that HotBloc not only provides a durable, solid building material, but also ensures the house is particularly well insulated from temperature extremes.

In addition, these masonry blocks provide deep door and window reveals, much like those seen in traditional European homes.

"The materials helped determine the design of the house," says Northcott. "The sloping site was another factor. To ensure the living areas could open out to level outdoor areas, the site was terraced. We also introduced a split-level design to the ground floor. This adds visual interest and has the added advantage of allowing extra-high ceilings in the main living area."

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View of room with purple couch and wooden table.

But although the ground floor is on four different levels, there is an easy flow between rooms, thanks to a central circulation area.

"All the rooms come off this core, which means there is less hallway space than in most homes," says Northcott. "This was a way to maximise the floor plate the room sizes are not compromised by passages."

Enclosing the area below the main stairs enhances the sense of solidity and permanence. It also introduces a sculptural, European quality that fits with the client's brief for a house that wouldn't date.

Pointon says the project is a good example of cost-effective design and construction.

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View of room with purple couch and wooden table.

"With four bedrooms, this is not a small home, but it doesn't have a huge footprint. It is also highly effective in terms of sustainability, providing ongoing energy savings."

For more details, contact Town & Country Residential, PO Box 16, Greenhithe, Auckland 0756, phone (09) 820 3962. Or visit the website:

Contact Dimension Design, 230 Atkinson Rd, Titrangi, Auckland 0604, phone (09) 817 4268. Website: Web:

Jul 04, 2011
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