Simple design, perfectly executed
The long slender residence, with its 200-degree view of Whakaraupō/Lyttleton Harbour, was designed to sit unobtrusively within the landscape, rather than showing off.
“It isn’t overly complex,” says Dennis. “As time goes by, I think I get more subtle. Every last panel joint in the house lines up, for instance, like a piece of joinery. That was definitely extra work for the builders. But you see it when you look for it – that apparent simplicity actually takes a lot of thinking.”
A 40-metre-long corridor forms the spine of the house, showcasing the couple’s art and books, “which keeps your exercise up,” Dennis laughs.
"The house is really only one room wide. We wanted a single-level house, in the hills, looking at the water – that’s how we’ve lived for most of our lives.”
Some of the finishes are slightly unexpected, like the carpet tiles in the living area and the full plywood interior. But each has been chosen carefully to reflect the landscape. The ‘Canterbury prickle’ detail on the cladding was singled out for special attention by the NZIA judges, who also cited the cladding as “a wonderful use of colour”.
Dennis and Sahra used some of the rocks unearthed on the site to match the colours to the environment; the volcanic boulders finally made themselves useful after proving a bit of a challenge during the build.
Overall, the low-profile home is exactly what Dennis and Sahra wanted. It’s thoroughly modern and efficient while also being ruthlessly simple: “It’s about home, comfort and simplicity – and an idea clearly expressed.”