Ten Years Ago

Home of the Year 2008 Fi­nal­ist

HOME Magazine NZ - - Home of the year -

In Septem­ber, Lehman Broth­ers filed for bank­ruptcy with $853 bil­lion in debt, as the world spi­ralled into the Global Fi­nan­cial Cri­sis. Eleanor Cat­ton’s first book, The Re­hearsal, was pub­lished. The New Zealand Ki­wis won the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

Our Home of the Year went to ‘Sig­nal Box’, a de­light­ful one-bed­room home by Melling Morse on a hum­ble Master­ton site near a rail­way line. Close be­hind was a su­perb home in Auck­land by Mar­shall Cook. De­signed for him­self, his wife Prue and their ex­tended fam­ily, the house gath­ers around a court­yard, with loose, multi-pur­pose rooms and a col­lec­tion of ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing mar­ble, tim­ber and ter­ra­cotta – a lan­guage that he’d built up through sev­eral projects. “It seems to me that all new houses con­tain seg­ments of pre­vi­ous ones,” says Cook now. “Not just the build­ing tech­nol­ogy but so­cial habits and mem­o­ries.”

What did you set out to do?

I set out to de­sign for the next phase of fam­ily life, crowded house one minute, empty nest the next. The idea was to al­low for a com­plete change of use with the po­ten­tial for mixed com­mer­cial and do­mes­tic oc­cu­pa­tion of dif­fer­ent parts of the house. I had been in­ter­ested in the idea of in­de­pen­dent fam­i­lies oc­cu­py­ing sep­a­rate parts of the same plot with shared ameni­ties and ser­vices. But mar­riages to for­eign­ers and re­lo­ca­tions to other is­lands in­ter­rupted those ideas!

Why do court­yards work so well?

They pro­vide a vis­ual and phys­i­cal ex­ten­sion to the in­evitable re­duc­tion of liv­ing ar­eas. No con­tem­po­rary de­vel­op­ment should be with­out one. If only for dry­ing the clothes.

How did you achieve so much on such a tight site?

We bought it from a very lib­eral neigh­bour and were able to trade bound­ary, height and out­look con­ces­sions. The shape of the house, bound­ary, fire proof­ing and ma­te­ri­als were fixed in dis­cus­sions over a glass or two (or three).

How has it fared?

I still like its pres­ence in the street. The colour and tex­ture seem more muted now. But it is the beauty of the street and its gi­gan­tic Lon­don plane trees that re­ally car­ried the day.

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