Working woman’s cottage wows
‘‘Everyone has this romantic idea of a workingman's cottage, but when this house was built (early last century) it was the women who did all the work in the home.’’
It’s what’s going on behind the scenes that makes this house special – there’s a new, award-winning addition out the back. You just can’t see it from the road.
The house, in Onehunga, Auckland, is traditionally known as a workingman’s cottage, but architect Michael O’Sullivan of Bull O’Sullivan Architecture calls it a ‘‘working woman’s cottage’’.
‘‘Everyone has this romantic idea of a workingman’s cottage, but when this house was built (early last century) it was the women who did all the work in the home,’’ he says.
O’Sullivan says the laundry was one of the most arduous chores – and that was still the case for the family living here.
AUT design lecturer Dr Janine Randerson, art director Jason Johnston and their young daughter Hazel were going outside to use their laundry, which was within the subframing beneath the house. It even had a dirt floor.
But the laundry wasn’t the only problem, says Randerson.
The family commissioned O’Sullivan to design an addition at the rear, which would maximise the garden view and access – the existing house had very little indoor-outoor connection.
The architect’s approach was to create a new garden pavilion, which would be the ‘‘public forum’’, keeping the front of the cottage for the bedrooms and office space. ‘‘The addition was designed to be light and airy, and open to the outdoors, like a breath of fresh air, compared to the awkwardness of the cottage,’’ O’Sullivan says.
‘‘A garden pavilion allows you to engage with the rear yard. Without this connection, the owners would be using the yard like a farmer would use a paddock.’’
Because the site slopes down from the street, the addition is a few steps lower than the house, as well as hidden from the street. The change of levels enhances the difference between new and old, while a large occular skylight above the stairs ensures the transition zone is flooded with light.
The addition has also met with the approval of industry professionals, winning a 2017 NZIA Auckland Architecture Award.
Randerson says the price tag was around $250,000.