A flat, clear section has become the white whale of urban architecture in Aotearoa. So when this site on the cusp of town and country in Ngāmotu New Plymouth came onto the market, one local couple moved fast.
Scattered with mature trees and curated planting, the land had been subdivided off the neighbour’s back garden. “I’ve never seen a site quite like it,” says Tim Bland, director at Ardern Peters Architects. “It was like walking into a botanical garden.” Employed by the owners – his parents – to design a three-bedroom house on the site, his first challenge was ensuring the home didn’t destroy the park-like atmosphere.
“I planted the house quite centrally so that you were surrounded by a 360-degree garden,” Bland explains. With 10 grandchildren living locally, the owners frequently play host to family and friends, so maximising the home’s connection to the outdoors was crucial – as was safety. They wanted multiple viewpoints to the outside, minimal trip hazards and a single-level floorplan. The house also needed to consider the climate, with protection from the rain and strong westerly winds.
The home centres around a generous kitchen and living space, which flows outdoors through open-corner sliding doors from Altherm’s APL Architectural Series. A louvred roof shelters the verandah from rain and shields the living spaces from harsh sunlight. An outdoor fire and flawless lawn complete this entertainer’s haven. The home’s low roof, clerestory windows and pavilion-like form cast a mid-century tint over its aesthetic. “I think it’s a really elegant period of design, so that unintentionally bubbled to the surface,” says Bland.
While family-focused, the house also caters to the couple’s time alone. A solid rock wall made from Taranaki river stone delineates public and private spaces, cutting right through the building. This separation affords the bedrooms and home office an added sense of intimacy. In the office, a slotted Altherm Metro Series window punctures the rock. Though Bland admits the logistics were “complex”, the garden view serves as ample reward.
Bland’s parents invited him to explore his creativity with this home, but the architect felt a heightened sense of responsibility throughout the design and build. “If even a little thing went wrong, then I would be reminded of that mistake every time I visited,” he says. As you take in the new home, nestled contently in its established surrounds, it appears the architect can rest easy.
This story was produced in association with Altherm Window Systems. To see more of this project, including podcast and video, visit altherm.co.nz/relative-ease