Head Space

Glamuzina Architects craft a charming garden studio for a creative couple in heritage-zoned Tāmaki Makaurau.

Head Space

Glamuzina Architects craft a charming garden studio for a creative couple in heritage-zoned Tāmaki Makaurau.

“It’s a really long site – it’s like a cricket pitch,” says architect Dom Glamuzina, describing the Ponsonby, Tāmaki Makaurau section of his friends and clients Cam Hooper and Maryse O’Donnell.

At the front, almost the street, is a very sweet, two-storey cottage with various extensions, leading out to a shady courtyard that then connects with a leafy park through a gate at the back; it looks out over neighbouring gardens into a wall of trees. Hooper is a director for film and television, and O’Donnell runs a boutique skincare brand. Both have long worked from home, but with a growing family they wanted formal space in which to do so – as Glamuzina puts it, “a lab and a library, for the mad scientist and the aesthete”, in the same space but separate enough that they wouldn’t bother each other.

Glamuzina and fellow architect Chris Smaill had been working on extension plans for the main house, which included a studio, when they realised the logical thing to do was to build something independent, right at the back of the site. “There was this lovely opportunity to bookend the site with the house at one end, and the studio at the other,” says Glamuzina, “and take advantage of this massive borrowed landscape.” It also meant the studio could have its own language, deliberately different to the white-painted weatherboards of the cottage.

The design is simple: a snug rectangle with an asymmetrical gable, the shorter side pulled down towards the boundary, wrapped in recycled brick, and the longer side reaching to the view through walls of glass. “I liked the proportions,” says Glamuzina, “but I also liked that the weight of the brick is a solid and sits on one side of the gable.”

Design aside, the project is also an example of quite charming neighbourly collaboration. Not long after they gained resource consent – the property is in the middle of one of Auckland’s infamous character zones, in which new buildings and alterations have to be sympathetic – the next-door neighbours began a massive building project of their own.


Hooper and O’Donnell contracted the same builders, longtime Glamuzina collaborators Lindesay Construction, to build the studio, which meant all materials and equipment came over the side boundary rather than down the narrow site. The neighbours also donated bricks from a demolished chimney to be used as cladding. Brick was a logical fit: its roughness contrasts with the fine timberwork, and connects to the courtyard. “But it’s also literally from next door,” says Smaill, “so there’s a nice heritage touch.”

To get to the finished studio, you edge around the house and down a gravel path, which leads through a verdant bricked courtyard; the studio’s a few steps up from the house and through some trees, which gives it a pleasant sort of separation. You enter through O’Donnell’s lab, then head down a short hall past a bathroom and into Hooper’s studio, which looks out into the trees of the park.

The material palette is simple, and natural – brick on the outside, timber and plasterboard on the inside, with oak floors and cedar joinery. Everything is tactile, with beautiful touchpoints: Hooper built the kitchen cabinetry in O’Donnell’s lab, along with a cypress desk in his office and walls of shelving on which to store gear. (Eventually, he’ll get around to putting on some doors.)

Throughout, window and door handles come in the form of small, roughly hewn works by the artist Kate Newby, which Hooper has collected for years. As Glamuzina starts into a theory on why this was a nice idea, Hooper wanders down the hallway, laughing. “The real story of that is that Dom’s hardware was so expensive that I said, ‘You gotta find something way cheaper, dude, or I’m just going to do a bit of dowel.’”

The finished result is charming, but also highly functional. It works as a studio, but it could also be a small dwelling – if there’s one thing Covid has taught us, it’s the importance of flexible spaces to retreat to. “The whole idea of separate spaces is coming up a lot with our clients,” says Smaill, “but being able to realise it this well is great.”


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