De­sign notebook

Q&A with John Mel­huish of Her­riot Mel­huish O’Neill Ar­chi­tects

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The Kāpiti dis­trict plan pro­tects much of the bush site between the road and the house. Did this make for a dif­fi­cult build? No, but we had to be care­ful with the trees and it was a lit­tle tricky de­sign-wise. The line where the pro­tec­tion ended wasn’t where it was sup­posed to be, so we had it sur­veyed to es­tab­lish the drip line. We even man­aged to in­sert the house a lit­tle more into the mānuka and keep some of the key trees. We had ini­tially thought that the large tree near the front door would have to go be­cause it was go­ing to block the en­trance. The lit­tle deck at the front door was go­ing to float out more into the space, but the client wanted to keep the tree. Now I like the idea that you sort of have to part the trees to come inside. The home looks sim­ple, but that’s de­cep­tive isn’t it? I’ll say one thing about the changes with the build­ing code, you have to work a lot harder to achieve some­thing to look as sim­ple as glass doors slid­ing over the wall, and things like that. You de­signed a per­gola over the deck. Why? I had a lot of de­bate with the clients over the per­gola. He said ‘Can’t you just put some glass over it so we can sit out there?’ And I said ‘No, you don’t need to do that – just sit inside the house if it rains’. There is al­ways that ten­sion – how much use is a per­gola? It also re­duces heat gain in sum­mer and al­lows light in winter. The wooden han­dles on the slid­ing doors are a lovely touch. Did you de­sign them? Yes. In­stead of spend­ing $300 on han­dles, the joiner made them out of hard­wood with white-tinted Re­sene Aqua-clear wash, a re­ally hard­wear­ing paint. As ar­chi­tects, we al­ways strug­gle with hard­ware and look for ways to do it dif­fer­ently.

1. En­try 2. Garage 3. Car­port 4. Bath­room 5. Kitchen 6. Snug 7. Laun­dry 8. Liv­ing 9. Court­yard 10. Sleep­out 10. En­suite 11. Bed­room 12. Wardrobe

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