We recently moved to a townhouse in the eastern suburbs of Tāmaki Makaurau designed by the late Vladimir Cacala, a modernist architect who came to Aotearoa from Czechoslovakia in the late 1950s. Built in 1966, it has only had three owners, including us, and retains much of its original features. There are big windows, a fish pond and several garden rooms (or spaces) – an obvious attraction for [my landscape designer husband] Jared and me.
I spend much of the day at home with our newborn, sitting in her room. It’s a peaceful, calm space and current home to the Lockhart family bassinet. Handmade with a love-heart headboard and small painted bunny rabbits, this charming piece of family history has been passed on through several generations.
The baby’s room has floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony that faces east. The view is filled with trees, which is wonderfully private and gives the illusion of living in the bush, or maybe a giant treehouse. I look for birds, and think about cleaning the windows. I spot tūī (we’ve named one Louis), pīwakawaka, a pair of kererū and too many pigeons.
At night we hear the distinctive call of the ruru. It’s close by, perhaps even close enough that it considers one of our trees home.
From the balcony I can just make out Rangitoto, hiding behind the trees, the mighty backdrop to this architectural treasure we call home. There are others too. Hidden around the bays you’ll find some Ron Sang houses, a few by Group Architects, and most exciting of all, just a couple of streets away, stands Rewi Thompson’s house.
From my spot on the balcony, across the ridgeline I spot another of Cacala’s designs, the blue box of the Tapper House. I wave, and wonder if they see us too.