Sur­face ten­sion

A Herbst house at Muri­wai has madeto-mea­sure walls for art

HOME Magazine NZ - - Contents - Text Margo White Pho­tog­ra­phy Jackie Meir­ing

Brian Carter and Clare Bradley had lived for the best part of the past two decades in a five-bed­room house in Re­muera, Auck­land, but the chil­dren had grown up, gone to univer­sity and, as Carter puts it, he “didn’t want to die in Re­muera”. Carter, a bar­ris­ter, and Bradley, a lawyer who now works as a business ex­ec­u­tive, considered var­i­ous prop­er­ties on a number of coast­lines around and be­yond Auck­land, be­fore buy­ing land at Muri­wai on the west coast of Auck­land. Un­sure if they wanted to build a hol­i­day home on it or live there, they rented a house nearby to get a sense of the com­mute. “We found that if we timed it right, we could do the drive in 35 min­utes,” says Carter. (That was five years ago, when the traf­fic was lighter – this year the cou­ple de­cided to also buy a crash pad in town.) Hav­ing de­cided to make Muri­wai home, they ap­proached Lance and Ni­cola Herbst, ar­chi­tects known for their exquisitely crafted baches, in­clud­ing their own on Great Bar­rier Is­land. Their work reg­u­larly fea­tures in this mag­a­zine and they won Home of the Year 2016 for a house on the Coro­man­del Penin­sula. “We were aware of their work,” says Carter, “their ap­proach to ma­te­ri­als, and their sheer imag­i­na­tion. Ev­ery­one talks about ‘in­door/out­door’ but they have a par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive ap­proach to the land­scape.” The brief was rea­son­ably loose. “We said, ‘We’re a cou­ple with three chil­dren at univer­sity, we live in a big house, and we are look­ing to a time when the house will be mostly oc­cu­pied by two of us, but we need to have sep­a­rate rooms for each of our three chil­dren when they stay,’” says Carter. “We wanted open-plan liv­ing, not mul­ti­ple liv­ing spa­ces, we didn’t want a huge garage, and we wanted the house to open out to the land.” The house also needed to ac­com­mo­date an ex­ten­sive collection of New Zealand art, and a lot of books. They needed space to hang ‘Big Scene’, the three-me­tre-wide work by Dick Frizzell. “We al­ways knew we needed a wall for that, but this is the first time we’ve had one specif­i­cally mea­sured for it,” says Carter. Frizzell shares the room with sev­eral other New Zealand artists, in­clud­ing Pat Hanly, Richard Lewer, and Jude Rae. Herbst Ar­chi­tects of­ten use tim­ber in their in­te­ri­ors, but here they’ve used Gib, painted white as a back­drop for the art. The white walls are off­set by a dark-stained oak centre – Ni­cola Herbst de­scribes it as the “dark heart of the house”. It’s used in the pan­elling of the stair­well, around the ser­vice ar­eas, and in the dou­ble-storey book­case that ex­tends from the ground floor and through to the ceil­ing of the up­per floor. The pas­sage­way up­stairs fol­lows the boomerang-shaped perime­ter of the house and the dark wood is con­tin­ued on this floor.

The tri­an­gu­lar site (around 1600 square me­tres) has a nar­row end nearer the road and over­looks the long stretch of beach. It widens at the other end and butts up against a re­serve. The ar­chi­tects used a cherry picker to iden­tify the sweet spot, plac­ing the house by the re­serve where it’s pro­tected and en­veloped by a canopy of na­tive bush. “This spot is a lit­tle mi­cro­cosm and in­cred­i­bly shel­tered,” says Carter. “The re­serve was one of the main at­trac­tions of the prop­erty – the bush is as important to us as the sea, and we re­ally like look­ing at the surf though the branches of the po­hutukawa.” For many years, the Herb­sts have ex­plored the ‘lan­guage of bones’ of­ten de­lib­er­ately dis­play­ing the junc­tions, beams and bat­tens of a struc­ture. In re­cent years, the prac­tice has shifted to­ward find­ing new ex­pres­sions of a struc­ture’s ‘skin’. This house has a taut skin of dark-stained shiplap cedar that fits in with the sky, bush and sea around it. There is beauty and lev­ity in the de­tails – the top floor shifts slightly off the out­line of the ground floor, pro­vid­ing a red-painted sof­fit that adds move­ment to the façade. The win­dows are face-fixed, ex­cept for two that face north and have been set into the façade and sur­rounded by in­tri­cate cop­per fram­ing. Cop­per has also been used to edge the face-fixed win­dows, as para­pet de­tail, and in­doors as the cop­per kitchen splash­back. When asked what it’s like to live in their new home, Carter says: “It’s our home for­ever. This was specif­i­cally designed for the rest of our lives, and we’re just chuffed, re­ally. We love it.”

The house has a taut skin of dark-stained shiplap cedar that fits in with the sky, bush and sea around it.

Right The piece to the right of the kitchen is by Robert McLeod. The paint­ing next to it is by Philip Trust­tum. On the op­po­site wall is ‘Front Row’ by Richard Lever. The fire­place is a ‘Gazco Stu­dio Du­plex’. Far right The light above the kitchen is­land is ‘Y Chan­de­lier’ by Dou­glas & Bec. The full-height splash­back is cop­per.

Left In the main bed­room, ‘The Art of Re­mem­brance’ by Max Gim­blett hangs on the wall to the side of the bed. The piece on the bed­head is ‘A Shel­tered Farm’ by An­drew Bar­ber. ‘Awake Aotearoa’ by Pat Hanly hangs above the bed. The paint­ing by the window is by Pa­trick Pound. Above The top floor shifts slightly off the out­line be­low, al­low­ing for a dra­matic red sof­fit that adds move­ment to the façade. Right The din­ing table faces west and looks down to the beach.

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