Tate’s mod­ern de­sign is age­less

Western Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - COLLEEN HAWKES

It’s sum­mer – some peo­ple head to the beach, oth­ers go bush.

That’s ex­actly what ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer Chris Tate did 10 years ago when he de­signed a week­end hide­away for his own fam­ily.

He built a glass box in the Ti­ti­rangi bush, tucked it in be­tween the trees and mounted it on 16 poles so it would have min­i­mal im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

But per­haps the most amaz­ing thing about the For­est House, as he calls it, is its en­dur­ing de­sign – it still looks as though it was de­signed yes­ter­day.

Tate puts this down to the en­dur­ing Mod­ernist de­sign prin­ci­ples that de­fine his work.

‘‘I’m not driven by de­sign fads,’’ he says. ‘‘Jump­ing on a de­sign band­wagon can be so tem­po­rary. I be­lieve ar­chi­tec­ture should be time­less, so it will look just as good in an­other 10 years, and 10 years af­ter that. A house should last a life­time with­out need­ing many changes. An iconic, Mod­ernist de­sign will even look bet­ter over time.’’

The For­est House was Tate’s first project, and, sig­nif­i­cantly, it has de­fined his ca­reer. ‘‘This project has shaped me and my aes­thetic,’’ he says.

The de­signer says the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the ar­chi­tec­ture and the bush land­scape is crit­i­cal. ‘‘Putting a sharp, clean-edged build­ing within a na­tive bush land­scape is in­cred­i­ble – each com­ple­ments the other so per­fectly. The build­ing has a form, but the ‘gar­den’ is un­du­lat­ing, un­tamed and wild.’’

Tate likes to in­tro­duce na­tive plant­ings to all his projects. ‘‘Na­tives are very fast grow­ing and won­der­fully colour­ful. Even in the city, you can plant na­tives around a house like this and once they are es­tab­lished there is zero main­te­nance. And even­tu­ally, the birds come – tuis and wood­pi­geons. If ev­ery­one planted na­tives, we could bring the for­est back to the city.’’

A black and white colour pal­ette re­in­forces the clean lines of the For­est House. The cladding is black-stained tim­ber and there are black alu­minium col­umns, doors and windows fram­ing the floor-to-ceil­ing glaz­ing that brings the bush right into the house.

In con­trast, the floors are white. In an in­ter­view with The Tele­graph af­ter he built the house, Tate said, ’’Don’t ever be afraid to paint your floors white: they are easy to keep clean and make your fur­ni­ture, you and your guests all look like pieces of art!’’

CHRISTATE.NZ

Floor-to-ceil­ing glaz­ing pro­vides dra­matic bush views in this west Auck­land prop­erty.

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