From the In­side out

HOME Magazine NZ - - As Good As New - Text — Jes­sica-Belle Greer Pho­tog­ra­phy — Rus­sell Kleyn

A de­sign by Bon­ni­fait + Giesen comes to life around a 50s stucco home in Paekākāriki.

If a ship sets sail for a voy­age, where ev­ery wooden plank needs to be re­placed or re­stored along the way, is the craft that even­tu­ally re­turns to shore still the same ship? Th­e­seus’ para­dox puz­zled the an­cient Greeks and it’s just as rel­e­vant to­day. A decade ago, Matt and Kirsten Ralph bought a 1951 stucco house in Paekākāriki on the Kapiti Coast. Matt, a builder, had worked on baches in the area, turn­ing them into per­ma­nent homes, and he recog­nised the po­ten­tial in this one. To bring the dwelling up to date for their fam­ily of four, the Ralphs turned to Welling­ton ar­chi­tects Wil­liam Giesen and Ce­cile Bon­ni­fait. Their so­lu­tion was to add two ex­ten­sions, es­sen­tially squar­ing off the L-shaped home. It was a sim­ple form and a straight­for­ward build – it was the ap­proach that was unique. Over a nine-year pe­riod, while the fam­ily

lived in the house, Matt built the ad­di­tions out­side the orig­i­nal en­ve­lope. Un­der the new roof, he then opened up old to new, strip­ping, restor­ing and in­su­lat­ing where nec­es­sary. “It has pro­gressed through me and my in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the draw­ings, es­pe­cially in the de­tail,” says Matt. It’s un­der­foot and above that re­veal tell­tale signs of old and new – from the low, flat 50s ceil­ings to soar­ing new pitches, from orig­i­nal tawa floor­boards ly­ing next to those re­cy­cled from a build­ing in Welling­ton. “We didn’t want to hide those foot­prints,” says Matt. “You can walk in and tell peo­ple where the sunken bath was in the kitchen, and where the old back door and front door were.” The sig­nif­i­cant change to the roofline is the stud height achieved in the study area that sits above the kitchen. Here, a slop­ing roof mir­rors the land­scape while con­nect­ing the new ad­di­tion to the old home. “A sin­gle roofline has been de­vel­oped to link the house and em­bed it within the to­pog­ra­phy,” says ar­chi­tect Wil­liam Giesen. “From the court­yard out the back you can see right through the house and out to sea, so there’s a flu­id­ity at play with the changes of roof height.” Cre­at­ing a united front and co­he­sive en­tity, a Vi­tex hard­wood rain-screen has been bat­tened on top of the orig­i­nal stucco, as well as the new ply­wood ex­ten­sions. Now the colour of drift­wood, Matt says the look is in keep­ing with Paekākāriki’s as­sem­blage of aged dwellings. There’s noth­ing to hint at the 50s house that once was. “It’s like an old ship gone out to sea and it has come back weath­ered,” says Matt, mus­ing on his beloved old-new home.

1 —The en­trance re­veals no hint of the orig­i­nal 50s stucco home, which is now clad in weath­ered Vi­tex. 2 —Owner-builder Matt Ralph spent nine years liv­ing in the home as he trans­formed it from the out­side in, keep­ing some of the orig­i­nal walls and...

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