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Shape, movement, warmth – an urban sanctuary

As frequent travellers, the owners of this hilltop Christchurch property were looking for a low maintenance home offering retreat or sanctuary from their busy lifestyle.

Having experienced many trips abroad, they wanted us to create a design which reflected some aspects of the Italian architecture they had enjoyed on their travels.

A challenging site

In practical terms this is a large house on a tight site and it did present some interesting challenges, including resource consents, deep excavations and massive retaining walls.

One very positive outcome of this is that the interior of the house evolved into something that is particularly exceptional.

There is considerable shape and movement in the walls, which were initially incorporated to get the house to fit the site. However, the curved walls suit the style of the design and enhance the theme and the ambience of the home.

These curved and other walls are variously decorated with metallic and suede paints or overlaid in panelled stone.

Permanence of stone

Designed to stand for generations to come, the character of the chosen exterior materials embodies solidness and permanence.

To give the impression of an older property the owners had originally thought of having a distressed plaster look. They finally decided on a more refined style with the cladding treatment, opting for large cut blocks of Hinuera stone from New Zealand’s North Island.

Stone tends to offer more beauty than plaster. The particular stone was selected for its pumice content, providing colour variations, particularly when viewed up close. These variations add real warmth and texture to the built exterior and ultimately the overall finish.

Again thermal efficiency and a temperate internal climate were important features.

The Hinuera stone helps to provide this as well as the concrete mainly used in the construction.

Design features

  • The house is mainly constructed from grout filled blockwork and concrete floors.
  • The house features Hinuera stone cladding, cedar detailing and Eurotray metal roofing.