Award-winning practice SGA champions accessibility and nature in this Hobsonville build

In association with First Windows & Doors.

One of the most satisfying outcomes of a project for any architect is a happy client, and there’s no better testament to that than when they return to ask for another home. Such was the case for co-director of Strachan Group Architects (SGA) Pat de Pont when designing this dwelling in the Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland suburb of Hobsonville.

Pat’s clients have owned their property for 25 years, and he originally designed the building adjacent to this site, where they lived and worked. However, as the couple moved into retirement, they were keen to create a new, future-proofed base that afforded them greater accessibility, liveability and sustainability in the next stage of their lives.

TOP & ABOVE “The entry is interesting because we’ve got vehicle access from the southwest, and then pedestrian access from the northwest,” says Pat. “With two entry points to the site, we had to find a way to bring them together — that’s the reason for the garden path.” MIDDLE Inside, the anodized bronze finish of the Metro Series ThermalHeart stacker sliding doors and raking windows complements the cedar. This nook in the ‘garden room’ is furnished with N-LC01 chairs by Norm Architects for Karimoku Case Study and a Compose Side table by Warm Nordic, all from Good Form, plus an Unplugged Checkers rug from Nodi.

Their plot of land is L-shaped, so the plan carved off the existing backyard for the new build, though retaining green space was integral to the avid gardeners’ brief. “It was important to locate the home in a way that created pockets of garden,” says architectural graduate Mikyla Greaney, who worked alongside Pat on the project. “The clients had a clear idea of what they wanted, which became a nice marriage between the built elements we designed and the planting plan created by SGLA [Strachan Group Landscape Architects].”

TOP Some of the home’s awning windows are automated for remote opening. MIDDLE Décor in the living area painted with Resene Bitter includes a Tatamu coffee table, an Aiko sofa, a Column side table and cushions from Città, and artwork Garden Corner 3 by Kirstin Carlin (centre) from Melanie Roger Gallery. The painting on the right is displayed on an art TV. ABOVE “The timber became quite a large focus for the direction of the material palette,” says Mikyla. “We went for a dark stain that really grounds the forms, creates warmth and contrasts nicely with the garden. It carries through the house in the wall finishes and tiling, and the dark bronze joinery, which ties in beautifully with all those tones around it.” Lighting here in the stairwell includes an Ava 300 wall light by Astro Lighting and AB pendants from Città.

The journey into the house guides you from the long driveway, up concrete steps set amid curls of groundcover, past native shrubs tucked in against the cedar cladding and into the ‘garden room’, an expansive central space bound by joinery from First Windows & Doors. The cedar continues in from the exterior and in tandem with the large-format tiles on the floor allows you to slip from garden room to terrace or kitchen to outdoor room without a level change or shift in materials. This gives the home a pleasing ambiguity that’s emphasised by Metro Series ThermalHeart doors and windows, which enhance the feeling of being simultaneously indoors and out, while insulating to keep the home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

ABOVE Vases and a bowl by Margi Nuttall dot the living room, where corner stacking sliding windows from First Windows & Doors open onto the planting by SGLA. The astute placement and height of these windows is a practical move that means furniture can be easily slotted in underneath them. Artworks Movement of the People by KB Campbell (left), and There by Robin Neate from Melanie Roger Gallery hang above a cabinet designed by SGA and crafted by Philbe Design to provide storage for the couple’s collection of china and glass objects, disguise a heating and cooling unit, and create a sense of separation between living and dining.

Positioned as a circulation point between the public and private zones of the home, the garden room connects to the living, dining and kitchen areas on the west side of the house — a single-storey space. On the eastern side, you can pick a path down the stairs to the laundry, garage and guest suite, or up to the main suite and additional bedroom and bathroom — a floor future-proofed with facilities for self-sufficiency, including a kitchenette and workspace.
“The building is conceived as two blocks linked by the floating cloak of a roof,” says Pat. “The ceiling treatment is all timber, as a unifying material running from outside right through the house, over the living room, the garden room and then up over the bedroom wing.” With all that timber, a keen eye for detail was essential in the finishing of this home, and James Hosking and his team at JR Hosking Co worked alongside SGA to expertly complete the build, while Phil Horner of Philbe Design was behind the cabinetry.

TOP A complete connection to the outdoor room is attained in the dining space through large over-the-wall sliding doors from First Windows & Doors. Also seen here is a Romana dining table by Ercol and Lara chairs by L Ercolani, all from Good Form. The Radial stools at the adjacent kitchen island are from Città. MIDDLE Throughout the house, spaces are generously proportioned to allow ease of circulation and wheelchair access, and a lift has been installed for movement between the two storeys. ABOVE A part-height portion of the kitchen island with a small basin and integrated hob at one end provides the ability to cook from a seated position. A vase by Gidon Bing from Good Form is an elegant contrast against the honed Infinity Brown granite from CDK Stone.

The vagueness of boundaries between the interior and exterior is purposeful at this address and lets the owners do what they please with ease — be it spending a morning pulling weeds or an afternoon catching up on correspondence. “The way we treat windows and doors is that we strive to make the obvious things as passive as possible,” says Pat. “We don’t like to rely on a lot of mechanical trickery — if we can naturally ventilate, light and heat a house, that’s always the starting point. Careful placement of windows and doors and protection from the sun — those things are critical to a good design, particularly from a sustainability point of view.”

TOP All of the bathrooms are kitted out with accessibility in mind. “The bathroom fittings [from SA Plumbing Supply], such as the basins and grab rails, are really high quality and more design-led than what you’d normally see,” says Pat. “We wanted to create a beautiful home and have this overlay of accessibility as well. It was a consideration for our clients right from their initial brief, and having that emphasis early on meant we were able to integrate it into the design from the get-go, rather than having it be an afterthought.” ABOVE The building of two parts is linked by a single, large, cedar-lined roof ‘draped’ over the entire house. The superstructure of the building is timber framed using locally grown pine, augmented with steel with a high recycled content only when necessary to achieve spans and lightness. All the timbers used have Forest Stewardship Council or other certification, and the finishes were considered in terms of their low toxicity and environmental certifications.
“Sustainability has been a big part of the practice’s philosophy for a long time now,” he explains. “We continue to get better at it, we continue to learn. We give houses longevity beyond even their current owners, and that accessibility notion is another thing that does that. If you can make a house that’s as useful for someone in their 80s as it is for someone in their teens, you’ve got a house that’ll have longevity. Having happy clients is basically why we do this — that’s my take on it anyway!”

Words Alice Lines
Photography Simon Wilson

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