Ob­sessed with The Jet­sons, a Welling­ton cou­ple build a fu­tur­is­tic home high on the hills.

A Welling­ton cou­ple built the house they’ve al­ways wanted, in­dulging their fas­ci­na­tion with retro-fu­tur­ist ar­chi­tec­ture and jus­ti­fy­ing that view

NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS -

From their lounge high above Welling­ton har­bour, Mel An­der­son and Pete Williams pretty much see what pi­lots see on ap­proach. With Welling­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port’s run­way in a di­rect line of sight from their New­lands home, the cou­ple of­ten wish they had a hang glider or zi­pline to skip the 20km jour­ney in com­muter traf­fic. “If I have to fly out in the morn­ing I look across and think, ‘The air­port’s just there – why do I have to catch a taxi so far?’’’ says Pete.

That prox­im­ity also puts them di­rectly un­der the flight path, some­thing Mel and Pete quickly re­alised when they first vis­ited the then-un­de­vel­oped site in late 2014.

“We were wor­ried when a big plane flew over and said to each other, ‘Are we ever go­ing to get used to th­ese planes fly­ing over? What kind of sound in­su­la­tion should we use?’” says Mel. “But now we love it. It’s part of where we live; it’s the story of the house. We’ve got a flight app on our phone and we can go, ‘Oh, here’s the 777 in from Can­berra.’ Yes, it’s geeky, but we’re very geeky peo­ple.” >

“And if you’re out­side hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion, you just shut up un­til it’s gone then you carry on. It’s no big­gie,” says Pete.

They’re the first to ad­mit liv­ing un­der a flight path isn’t ev­ery­one’s idea of a good time, nor do they ex­pect ev­ery­one to love their house. The new build – com­pleted in Au­gust 2017 – is some­what fu­tur­is­tic but with a firm nod back­wards to the 1960s.

“I grew up ob­sessed with The Jet­sons TV pro­gramme, and the whole Goo­gie, mid-cen­tury, 1950s and 60s style,” says Mel. “That’s in­formed my idea of ar­chi­tec­ture and I’ve al­ways thought it would be ex­cit­ing to live in a house that stood out.”

When they moved here from Auck­land in 2013, the cou­ple – both IT pro­fes­sion­als – fell into the clas­sic Welling­ton trap of buy­ing dur­ing bright sum­mer sun­shine only to re­pent in win­ter’s shade. Need­ing to move, they de­cided it was time to build ex­actly what they wanted. “We wanted a house that had sloped ceil­ings, tri­an­gles, an­gled walls, and lots of win­dows to catch the sun. We wanted a house with real ar­chi­tec­tural style and one that jus­ti­fied this amaz­ing view,” says Mel.

Al­though Mel and Pete didn’t get the sunken lounge they re­ally wanted, their three-bed­room, two-bath­room home projects a mid-cen­tury vibe. There’s nary a right an­gle in sight, and the use of steel, glass, rigged light­ing, white­washed ply­wood and bare con­crete against vi­brant pop art colours makes it feel cu­rated and in­dus­trial. >

Rather than dig­ging out their slop­ing site, the house is built in sym­pa­thy with the nat­u­ral lie of the land. It sits on a con­crete slab up on stilts – like the Jet­sons’ – with lev­els step­ping down the slope.

Af­ter a year in their new home, the cou­ple – who live with their 16-year-old daugh­ter Frankie – are de­lighted. They sing the praises of Vorster­mans Ar­chi­tects, who they went with af­ter walk­ing away from a de­sign-and-build com­pany that they felt were com­ing up with a de­sign that didn’t re­flect their per­son­al­i­ties. “We ab­so­lutely wanted a house we could en­joy liv­ing in. We weren’t de­sign­ing to ap­peal to some face­less buyer in the fu­ture,” says Mel.

They were paired with grad­u­ate ar­chi­tect Ger­ard Dom­broski, who’s since left Vorster­mans. “He im­me­di­ately caught the spirit of what we wanted,” says Pete. “We ar­tic­u­lated our vi­sion well – we weren’t wishy-washy – but Ger­ard was able to trans­form it into a plan and very lit­tle changed from the orig­i­nal plan.”

The cou­ple say they also got lucky with their builders, Mak­ers Fab­ri­ca­tion. “They were youth­ful and en­er­getic, and al­ways came from an ar­chi­tec­tural per­spec­tive. They painstak­ingly mea­sured the win­dows to fit be­tween the steel and they got them bang on. Their ar­chi­tec­tural at­ten­tion to de­tail made a huge dif­fer­ence to the look of the place,” says Pete. “At the end they said they’d never learned so much from a build.”

‘I’ve al­ways thought it would be ex­cit­ing to live in a house that stood out... we wanted a house with real ar­chi­tec­tural style’

It’s not a big house, 160sqm on a 401sqm site, so space was an­other chal­lenge. The laun­dry is in the hall, the of­fice is a per­fectly formed nook, and any thoughts of an in­ter­nal ac­cess garage were jet­ti­soned early on – par­tic­u­larly as the cou­ple’s bud­get was also on the small side.

“We re­ally had no idea what to bud­get and so we pulled a fig­ure out of thin air. We de­cided $300,000 was ap­pro­pri­ate but it was to­tal wish­ful think­ing and we had to lift our bud­get to $550,000,” says Mel.

“De­spite the un­usual de­sign and the bright colours, we’re not par­tic­u­larly ex­tro­verted peo­ple. We’re home­bod­ies. We love curl­ing up on the couch with Net­flix on or just look­ing out at the view. But we do like to ex­press our­selves through our home. You only have one shot at life so you might as well have fun.”

THIS PAGE The house is clad in black Eurostyle Span­lock; na­tives and suc­cu­lents sur­round the en­trance.OP­PO­SITE (from top) Stor­age is in­cor­po­rated un­der the stairs in the mas­ter bed­room: “This space forms an im­por­tant part of our wardrobe,” says Pete. The mas­ter bed­room is on the lower floor and gets morn­ing and late af­ter­noon sun; the fea­ture wall is Re­sene ‘Bokara Grey’.

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