you sink into the sofa in Russell and Jen Webley’s living room, you’re below water level. That’s not normally desirable in post-quake Christchurch, but a sunken lounge was one of the prerequisites in a house its owners declare to be perfect.
In the original 2010 plan, the pond that laps the window sills was a swimming pool but, for quake-wary Jen, the thought of drowning in a miniature home-made tsunami put paid to that. Besides, the logistics of covering the pool were complicated and costly. “In the end we abandoned the pool idea but kept the connection between the lounge and water,” says Russell.
Russell and Jen say they wouldn’t change one thing about their Fendalton house, which was designed by Darren O’Neil of O’Neil Architecture. “He’s extremely good at space planning and we love the look of his buildings.” But the detail – wherein God lives, says Russell – is theirs. “We’ve been on the same page for every decision,” says Jen. >