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Butted up against a basalt cliff face, this home responds with rugged board-formed concrete cladding. Inside, family and guests are given close up reminders of the setting

By building designer Nicholas Mann, AO Architecture

From the designer:

Project description

Located in a peaceful valley with only birdsong breaking the silence, the home’s concrete Brutalist form both contrasts and complements the setting it resides in.

The new two-level home has living spaces located on the top level to make the most of the view over the leafy tree canopies, down the valley over greater Christchurch.

The owners’ main focus was to achieve permanence in construction and timelessness in design, resulting in a house that could be passed down the family generations.


While concrete is not a sustainable material in terms of the energy to produce it, it does have an inherent sustainable aspect in terms of its longevity.

The least sustainable practice in construction is demolition and this house will last through many lifetimes. The concrete also provides safety from the cliff face in event of an earthquake.

The site previously held an existing earthquake damaged two-level house with a concrete drive taking up all of the north facing outdoor living. It was also a very tight section closed in by the tree-lined open waterway on the eastern side and a rock faced cliff to the western side.

The new design responds by relocating the drive to the southern end, providing both privacy and protection with the only link to the road being over a bridge and also hugging the cliff which provides protection from rockfall as well as some stunning views of the basalt rock.

Design Features and Creative Solutions

Butted up against a rugged basalt cliff face, the house offers an unusual perspective, taking into account the dominating landscape of rock and bush—and, on a good day, views out over Christchurch to the Southern Alps beyond.

Simplicity and minimalism were requested so to that end the house has been kept only to concrete and glass, That led to the development of a facade punctured by floor-to-ceiling glazing across both levels of the two-storey home.

The result is a solid form with glazing carved out of it across every aspect—from the garaging to the glass front door, which offers sightlines through the structure to the defining basalt rock behind.

The board-formed cast concrete creates a rough, raw aesthetic that fits well with the rugged cliff face behind. With the sun shining on it, the facade is ever-changing due to the rugged textured finish, as it is at night when illuminated or in shadow.

Entry to the home is by way of a full height glass door that opens into an entrance area. To the right, a gallery-style hallway defined by a concrete floor and full height bookshelves leads to the second and third bedrooms.

A U-stair defined by its minimalist timber treads also ascends from the entrance, behind which double-height glazing takes in a confronting view of the detailed rock face immediately behind.

Here, a waterfall was designed to run gracefully over the jutted rock, illuminated at night by subtle lighting.

Arriving on the upper level, the palette is warm and natural with the pared-back notion as evident here as on the exterior.

The state of the art systems that complement the air tight construction and high level of insulation have been hidden behind custom elements to further the minimalist aspect the home is trying to achieve.

In a fast-paced world this home aims to create a sense of permanence and peacefulness.

Credit list

Builder
Craven Build
Roof
EcoTUFF – TPO, by Sealco Waterproof Systems
Main flooring
Concrete with in-floor heating across both ground and first floor; structure is Stahlton Rib and Infill
Bathroom tiles
Ewood Camel and Stark Sand, large-format, by Xlight
Heating
Chofu heatpump with PE-RT underfloor pipe, by Multitubo; central VAC system by Mitsubish; Cleanaire ventilation system with custom grills
Feature light fittings
Halcyon recessed downlights and track lights throughout; Mouse in Solid Bronze
Furniture
Maximus leather sofa, in Whiskey; Rubix leather swivel chairs – both from DA Lewis
Engineer
Bud Design
Cladding
Concrete – board formed from larch timber which is used throughout the interior; concrete poured on-site
Windows/doors
Thermally broken All Seasons, by Nulook; steel entry door and garage door custom made by Division Architectural Engineering
Bedroom flooring
Galet Quartz by Cavalier Bremworth, from The Floor Centre
Paints
Resene Pearl Lustre Half; Resene Pearl Lustre Half Quarter
Fireplace
Suspended fire, black – The Aether, by Aurora
Control systems
Video and gate control from house
Awards
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Runner-up

Story by: New Zealand TIDA Homes

Photography by: Simon Larkin

10 Jan, 2021

For more than 30 years, Trends has promoted great home design ideas through its print, digital and online media.The Trends International Design Awards – TIDAs – take that involvement to the next level with the search for the best kitchens, bathrooms and homes across a number of the countries where Trends has a presence.


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