Rowe Residence by Brendon Gordon Architects links with the landscape & a modernist aesthetic

In association with First Windows & Doors.
Looking from the balcony of this home along the golden-sand stretch of beach before it, you can’t help but be awed by the sweeping panorama of the coast, from Mauao/Mt Maunganui at one end to Maketu at the other. It’s a scene architect Brendon Gordon appreciates as much as anyone. “Each site here has its own unique view of Mt Maunganui,” he says. “Having designed more than a few houses along this strip, you come to understand how to take advantage of that outlook pretty well.”
ABOVE For a comforting sense of seclusion and solidity, the home constructed by Todd Grey Builders is clad in steel and cedar, and features a stone-faced wall at the entry.
Previously occupied by a ’90s home with all the hallmark curves and quirks of the era, the location offered opportunity by the bucketload for Brendon’s clients, who were relocating from a rural property to create their own version of paradise by the sea. “They have a real affinity with classic California Modernist architecture, particularly the work of John Lautner,” he says. Thus, “the roofline here is a bit of a hat tip to some of Lautner’s forms, where we responded to planning constraints while maximising the light and outlook with the roof pitched in such a way that we could get a view from the main bedroom through the living pavilion and out to the horizon.”
TOP In the Black Anodised finish with Urbo Series hardware in Matt Black chosen for all of the joinery, the front door is a Metro Series Pivot door from First Windows & Doors that provides the initial ‘snapshot’ view. The First Windows & Doors roof window near the stairs is thermally broken with ThermalHeart tech — an additional insulator that keeps the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. ABOVE Snapshots continue through the abundant Metro Series windows and doors used exclusively throughout the home for overall unity. “Moving around the house, there are those view shafts, those little connections, those moments,” says Brendon.

The environmental challenges of residing on the coast called for moves that make the house easy to live in and minimise maintenance, particularly in the material selection and external elements like the concealed fixings. Set behind the dunes, the exterior palette melds naturally with the surrounding greenery —an established tropical garden amid grassy knolls, between which a trail leads to the beach. Cedar slats line the house in irregular widths — a pleasingly random detail among all the straight lines and structure — punctuated by black anodised joinery from First Windows & Doors.

TOP Mostly natives, with some tropical plants and flashes of colour, the garden beyond all that glorious glass is carefully calibrated and takes advantage of the small rising dunes out the front that enable it to flourish in an area where Brendon says “the salt can be pretty punishing”. ABOVE In the living space, custom-made Metro Series clerestory windows sit above Metro Series stacker sliding doors. “From the exterior, the angled roof plane is deceptively simple, and it’s only once you’re inside that its effectiveness is revealed,” says Brendon.

Boldly turning its back to the street with a steel and cedar facade, on arrival the built form has a Brutalist feel. “It grabs the space and holds the ground,” says Brendon. “Then as you enter, you tuck into the house for an experience that takes you away from the suburban setting for a direct connection to the beach.”
Part of a two-storey, split-level floorplan, the main living, dining and kitchen pavilion spans the width of the home’s top storey, where multiple Metro Series stacker sliding doors from First Windows & Doors lead onto a covered balcony that was extended in the renovation process. With generous eaves and expanded decks, living takes place almost as much outside as it does in, while clerestory windows above the sliders let abundant light inside.

ABOVE The interior doesn’t adopt the usual coastal tropes, but rather expresses the owners’ love of natural materials and sourcing objects, art and artefacts on their travels.

Peeling off from the living and entertaining areas, journeys to the streetside portion of this storey and downstairs ease you into more retreat-like private spaces. The remainder of the first floor is given over exclusively to the main bedroom, dressing room and ensuite, which have been laid out with generous proportions to form an escape when the house is full of visiting family and friends. In contrast to the robust materials applied to the exterior, details such as their glass-fronted wardrobes, brass bathroom cupboards and marble shower surround add a luxe touch.

TOP Each opening along the balcony frames a slightly different aspect of the landscape and ever-changing sea view. ABOVE A stone-and-timber island with a brass kickplate takes centre stage in the kitchen as a hub for entertaining. Brendon says the late John Launtner’s influence “is expressed in some of the home’s structure and the exaggerated beams, and the language of exhibiting or showing the structure. You feel comfortable in these spaces because you can see how it all works.”
Alongside clients who were heavily invested in the interior design, for Brendon, a real focus of this project was creating moments in and around the house that fulfill its true potential. Even the transitions between spaces work beautifully: the roof window over the stairwell that draws light into this circulation zone, outdoor rooms that enable living in the landscape, the surfboard nook and gardening bench under the stairs outside…
TOP Also accessed through Metro Series sliders, the two downstairs bedrooms and family room connect to an outdoor living space complete with a pizza oven that makes dining under the stars a regular pastime. This zone captures the last rays of the day from the west, and installing a Balinese-style hut here has ensured it’s a cosy spot in which to shelter from any onshore breezes. ABOVE Another custom Metro Series clerestory window maximises the natural light in the ensuite, where a louvred stacker sliding window allows air to circulate while shifting to control the light and ensure privacy.
“We also pay particular attention to what the view shafts are and where the neighbours are,” says Brendon. “That’s the nice thing about coming in to renovate — you know where you have to screen, shelter or plant to control that and create that privacy.”
For a relatively public site, the resounding feeling here is one of seclusion, protection and comfort. It’s the kind of coastal hideaway that whisks its owners away from the worries of the world and back to what grounds them.
Words Alice Lines
Photography Simon Wilson

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