A cre­ative Welling­ton cou­ple trades their fam­ily home for a con­tem­po­rary cot­tage up the road.

HOME Magazine NZ - - Contents - Text Sharon Stephen­son Pho­tog­ra­phy Si­mon De­vitt

Lo’CA Ar­chi­tects show how down­siz­ing has rarely looked this good

What’s a cou­ple to do when they find them­selves in an empty nest? If you’re Bar­bara Fill and Nick Dry­den, you sell the fam­ily home, cob­bled to­gether 34 years ago from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, to your el­dest son Zen, be­fore mov­ing three doors down and de­mol­ish­ing a worker’s cot­tage, one of four built from Dutch kit­sets by the blokes who went on to start Lock­wood Group. “Nick and Bar­bara owned all the cot­tages, which were on one ti­tle and orig­i­nally used to house coun­cil work­ers,” says ar­chi­tect Tim Lovell who, to­gether with busi­ness part­ner Ana O’Con­nell of Lo’CA Ar­chi­tects, was called on to cre­ate a con­tem­po­rary two-bed­room home for Fill, a his­to­rian, and Dry­den, a sculp­tor and for­mer film-set builder. The Welling­ton cou­ple had a de­fined de­sign sen­si­bil­ity: they wanted a home with a strong con­tex­tual link to the hilly, slop­ing sec­tion, that worked with, rather than against, the weather con­di­tions, and which ac­com­mo­dated their art col­lec­tion. Their pre­vi­ous home was 60 stairs up from the road and on sev­eral lev­els, dom­i­nated by dark na­tive tim­ber. “This house is a re­ac­tion to that,” says Lovell. “They wanted some­thing sim­ple, accessible and low main­te­nance so that they could pur­sue new in­ter­ests.” The re­sult is a solid, 124-square-me­tre weath­ered cedar box, which O’Con­nell refers to as a “de­con­structed sculp­tural state house”. The ar­chi­tects were heav­ily in­flu­enced by the scale and size of the 1906 S. Hurst Sea­ger and Ce­cil Wood state house in Pe­tone, which Fill had writ­ten a book about. It fea­tured sim­ple ge­om­e­try and slop­ing ceil­ings. “We ex­plored a pared­back, com­pact house, an art­ful strip­ping back to the ba­sics,” says O’Con­nell. This has been achieved by skew­ing the gabled state-house roof and po­si­tion­ing the ridge on the di­ag­o­nal, cre­at­ing “a low-slung dy­namic form that fol­lows the nat­u­ral slop­ing ground lev­els around the house”. Con­structed from fi­bre-ce­ment pan­els, pow­der-coated alu­minium win­dows and cedar cladding de­signed to “grey off like a piece of weath­ered drift­wood”, the house over­hangs the north-eastern cor­ner of the sec­tion, ap­pear­ing to ‘float’ over the gar­den like the bow of a ship. The mar­itime ref­er­ence is in­ten­tional: not only does the house align with the coastal Is­land Bay en­vi­ron­ment, but it also res­onates with Dry­den, a for­mer com­mer­cial fish­er­man and keen sailor. (The asym­met­ric roof, with its birch-ply pan­elled lin­ing, fol­lows his much-loved row­boat.)

Left Lo’CA Ar­chi­tects were in­flu­enced by the scale and ge­om­e­try of a Pe­tone state house by S. Hurst Sea­ger and Ce­cil Wood. Re­plac­ing a for­mer worker’s cot­tage, the home sits com­fort­ably with its neigh­bour­ing cot­tages. Far left, be­low The cast-alu­minium...

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