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.

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