Q&A

HOME Magazine NZ - - News - HENRI SAYES Sayes Stu­dio

There was a lot wrong with the orig­i­nal, but what was right?

You don’t of­ten come across Deco houses in Auck­land, and while small and awk­ward on the in­side, the ex­te­rior had good pro­por­tions, in­ter­est­ing ma­te­ri­als and a well-con­sid­ered com­po­si­tion. It was in orig­i­nal con­di­tion, no bad 80s ren­o­va­tions to peel back, which was a great place to start. It was very com­part­men­talised, but the spa­ces worked well to be re-pur­posed as bed­rooms. It also had a gen­er­ous front yard, a great sec­tion, with a big old puriri tree. And it had great own­ers with great de­sign sen­si­bil­i­ties.

How much work did you have to do to the old house?

We tried to al­ter as lit­tle as pos­si­ble. We made mi­nor in­ter­nal ad­just­ments be­tween the two bed­rooms. We de­cided it would be bet­ter to spend money on the ex­ten­sion rather than sink it into costly re­work.

You walked a care­ful line be­tween her­itage and new. Why?

To me, a good ex­ten­sion is one that com­ple­ments the ex­ist­ing house. The ex­ten­sion is mod­ern, but it plays off the orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­als, the so­lid­ity of the form and the com­po­si­tion of the el­e­va­tions, cre­at­ing a sense of con­ti­nu­ity be­tween new and old. They shouldn’t com­pete. Equally, the new shouldn’t slav­ishly copy the her­itage to cre­ate that sense of con­ti­nu­ity. It’s about teas­ing out the core idea of the her­itage el­e­ment and car­ry­ing that through, rather than just copy­ing a dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ment.

Hav­ing the liv­ing area on the lower level is key – tell us about that.

The site is quite long and thin, so we tried to push the new build­ing work as far to the south as pos­si­ble, which led to a very lin­ear plan. To counter this, we were look­ing to cre­ate some spa­tial con­trast along the ex­ten­sion’s length. From the ex­ist­ing tim­ber floor, which ex­tended out to be­come the din­ing and kitchen, the floor level then drops two steps to a con­crete slab in the liv­ing room. It gives a bit more vol­ume to the space, but also a more con­tained, in­ti­mate feel. It also pro­vides ca­sual seat­ing on the edge of the liv­ing area, and en­gages more with the back yard.

4 & 5 —The liv­ing area gives the home valu­able space and opens up to the back yard. The tim­ber-bat­ten ceil­ing gently rises above the lounge, then com­presses into a plas­ter­board box above the win­dow seat, next to a large pic­ture win­dow. —The kitchen is...

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