04.04.2019

Abroad: New Zealand Architect Briar Hickling


 


Watch this short video please
(Created by Postcard Productions for Herschel Supply Co.)

 

You look at both the quantity and quality of projects Briar Hickling has worked on… and then you see she’s still just in her 30’s. Barely hitting her stride. Can you imagine her body of work in another decade?

After graduating at Massey, Briar cut her teeth working for one of New Zealand’s leading hospitality designers, Allistar Cox. Then, in 2009, she moved to Shanghai, to a Senior Associate position at Neri & Hu, one of China’s most world-renowned architectural practices. There, she worked on world-class hospitality projects in Asia, Australia and the UK, including restaurants for internationally acclaimed chefs, and hotel projects such as Westin Hotel Xi’an, The Waterhouse in Shanghai, and the Alila in Kuala Lumpur. It was at Neri & Hu she met her work wife. fellow design wunderkind, Alex Mok. After collaborating on a number of big projects together, Briar and Alex founded their own practise, Linehouse.

In Briar’s own words: …I saw China as an opportunity to start my own practice… to create unique spatial concepts with a contextual narrative. In some ways the design process is more open in Asia, the construction process is faster and there is more room for flexibility. If you can harness this somewhat chaotic process, the result can be very rewarding. This is how I have managed to build an extensive portfolio of work which also came down to hard work and initiative. Now based between Hong Kong and New Zealand, the last 10 years have allowed me to establish a network of local craftsman, creating bespoke designs and allowing for an inventive use of materials to create something new and unexpected.”

That was 2014. It’s been a prodigious 5 years, conceiving and realising 30 (Yes, three-zero – in five years!) of the most incredible, storied, exquisitely-detailed environments.

Above is just one of their most recent projects – John Anthony, an East-meets-West Dim Sum eatery on Hong Kong Island. Named after historical figure John Anthony, the first Chinese man to be naturalised as a British citizen in 1805, and the ‘father’ of London’s original Chinatown. Briar and Alex’s design draws on the story of John Anthony’s life, exploring a fusion of colonial architecture with eastern detailing, to create a British Tea Hall turned Chinese Canteen.

Linehouse have employed the materials John Anthony would have encountered on his journey from his homeland to London’s docklands: hand-glazed tiles, natural and racked renders, terracotta, hand-dyed fabrics and handwoven wickers, hammered copper lights. A celebration of sustainability and traditional craft is communicated everywhere you look. The detail is amazing.

The main dining hall, with its vaulted ceiling, is an interpretation of the storehouses of London’s docklands.

The floors are tiled with reclaimed terracotta from old Chinese village houses

The aesthetic plays on the retro nostalgia of East-London Chinese canteens

The private dining rooms are lined in hand-painted tiles, featuring large scale illustrations of commodities traded between the British and Chinese in the 18th century such as medicinal poppies and exotic animals. 

Briar’s very latest project, Tingtai Teahouse, is a series of huge elevated boxes inside a vast old factory. These suspended spaces-within-a-space act as individual private teahouses, all sleek glass, brushed stainless steel and contemporary minimalism, alongside the patina of the original concrete columns and brick walls of the former factory.  See photos of this incredible project here. (Actually, pop the jug on and set aside a half hour to tour all their projects – so inspiring)

It won’t be long before Briar and Alex will stretch those impressive wings to other progressive pockets of the globe. They’ve recently opened an office back on Briar’s home turf – I’m hoping that means there’s a New Zealand project on the way….

16.10.2018

Habitus House of the Year 2018 – Point Wells House



Habitus Magazine
 celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year and, to mark the milestone, have founded an annual awards programme to recognise outstanding examples of residential architecture.

The inaugural Habitus House of the Year (2018) presents 25 homes that are exemplary embodiments of how the region lives through design, and includes five New Zealand homes amongst the honours. 

I’m partnering with Habitus to share some of the New Zealand finalists with you. We’ve been to the beach (Hahei House by Studio 2 Architects) and the city (339 House by Strachan Group Architects), and now we’re out in the countryside with Point Wells House, designed by Paterson Architecture Collective and Steven Lloyd Architecture.

Photography by David Straight

This Omaha home’s owners requested a gabled-roof farmhouse for their idyllic country setting. The resulting home is one that honours rural tradition and nostalgia, while offering beautifully modern, minimalistic details that make the rustic, refined.

It has the vocab of a simple barn, striking a bold silhouette with that iconic 45-degree gable roof. It’s raised off the paddock on piles, in the manner of a classic rural shed. And the cedar weatherboards look like they could’ve been here as long as the huge old macrocarpa trees… But, look closely, and the contemporary details start to shine.

Like those thin steel-boxed windows, did you spot those? Or the fact that there are no bargeboards. Look again – I love this detail. In fact, there are no fascia boards or soffits, either. And those weatherboards, they actually graduate in size, steadily getting wider as they reach the roof.

Inside, it’s top to toe timber, with dark stained oak floorboards, and walls and ceilings clad in rough sawn South Island Beech. I’d end up needing to see an Osteo if I lived here, I’d be staring up at those amazing trusses all day (I especially love the exposed bolts and the steel tension rods – shearing shed chic).

Today’s aesthetic is for super light, bright, open spaces – but here, the architects have sought to create beauty with shadows and dappled light. They’ve been very deliberate with the amount and intensity of light the house lets in, creating depth and drama in quiet spaces, and illuminating others (I love how they’ve accentuated the trusses with skylights in the great room).

It reminds me a little of an old rural church. Have you ever been inside one of those New Zealand colonial chapels? They have those tall, grand cathedral ceilings, but with a relatively long, narrow volume, few windows and timber interior, they’re also very restful and intimate.

The home is made up of three of these barn buildings – one has a garage and guest house, while the other two form the house proper. The west barn houses a great room (with massive poured-concrete fireplace), kitchen, scullery and laundry, while the east barn has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study and another living room.

A long boardwalk passes almost through both pavilions, connecting the east and west ‘wings’ through their living spaces and creating a beautiful big outdoor room between them.

Having three distinct buildings, connected through pathways, gardens, porches and courtyards, gives the site a village-like feel, and creates multiple outdoor spaces, so no matter the time of day or the direction of the wind vane, you can find a sunny, still spot to sit.

Other aspects I noticed and loved:

Those tall, narrow casement windows, with bronze hardware by NZ company Chant; the simple poured concrete steps into the house – more of that shearing shed chic; how the kitchen actually sits within a timber box at one end of the Great Room; and the simple form of the two poured-concrete chimneys. Also, look, I dream of a modern black barn as much as the next woman, but I really love that they didn’t choose black for this beautiful home.

~

To see all the Habitus House of the Year 2018 finalists, visit habitusliving.com/houseoftheyear

You can also vote for this home – or another favourite – to win People’s Choice. Vote here. 

 

homeware-store-online

09.10.2018

Habitus House of the Year 2018 – 339 House


Habitus Magazine celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year and are marking the milestone with the launch of an annual awards programme to recognise the most outstanding examples of residential architecture in our region.

The inaugural Habitus House of the Year (2018) presents 25 homes that are exemplary embodiments of how the region lives through design and includes five New Zealand homes amongst the honours.

I’m so pleased to be partnering with Habitus in New Zealand to share a few of the New Zealand finalists. Last week I shared Hahei House by Studio 2 Architects, and this week it’s 339 House by Strachan Group Architects.

Photography by Simon Devitt.

339 Mount Eden Road sits sandwiched between blocks of flats on both sides, and being on a main artery into Auckland city, is subjected to the noise and fumes of twenty thousand cars, trucks and city buses passing each day. Not exactly an attractive proposition. But for the creative mind, constraints and challenges aren’t so much a barrier as just a puzzle that holds opportunity for an original, beautiful solution, right? And that’s exactly what architect David Strachan has created on this sliver of land.

For himself and his family, he has created a home that’s warm, sunny and social. And for the architect community he’s created a masterclass in how to maximise space, light and views whilst maintaining peace and privacy.

To enter the house, you first pass through an internal courtyard designed to act like a lung, its insulated glass doors and glass roof, concrete cladding, aromatic cypress-lined interior panels and plants all working together to filter out road noise and fumes. The glazed roof floods the home’s kitchen with morning sun, and frames a view of Maungawhau, the sentinel of Mount Eden.

Through that courtyard and into the house proper, noise and neighbours become entirely a non-factor. Through clever planning and positioning, the home is open and light-filled, but oh so private.

MVP here is the two-storey negative space that cuts through the house from East to West. Upstairs bedrooms open onto it giving a mezzanine feel, and a window that stretches from the floor right to the top of the eight metre Cathedral ceiling floods the interior with light.

One of my favourite details is that deliciously industrial, still-showing-its-tie-holes, super thick, precast concrete wall that spans the whole length of the home’s north wall. Another is the vertical shiplap lining on the walls – actually just white-painted plywood panels, with a 4×4 negative groove cut into them.

Beautiful birch ply gabled roof

Little details I noticed and loved: The black oxide concrete floors juxtaposed with fresh white linear walls and lots of warm timber of varying textures; the delicate blown-glass lighting; the kitchen island – designed by David of course and made from black powder-coated steel framing with birch ply; the fact that the two big dining tables are on castors so they can they can be pushed together for big gatherings; beautifully-upholstered built-in bench seats; and – of course – the big glass sliders that open the living room right out onto the pool, so you can be lolling about in the water having a convo with someone sitting at the dining table.

(While we’re talking about the pool, would you just look at that welded black steel pergola? It’s both freakin’ sexy form, and considered function, acting as somewhat of a privacy screen from the next-door apartments.)

At the rear of the site is a steep cliff, and the house perches on its edge. From the pool, your view is all blue sky and treetops.

339 Mount Eden Road is also consciously energy-efficient, with double layers of heavy duty insulation, 6.5kw of solar panels on the roof, and tanks that’ll take 15,000 litres of rainwater.

 

Is this your winner for Habitus House of the Year 2018?

Vote for it to win the People’s Choice award,
by visiting habitusliving.com/houseoftheyear

02.10.2018

Habitus House of the Year 2018 – Hahei House


Photography by Simon Devitt

Habitus Magazine marks its 10 year anniversary this year and are celebrating with the launch of an annual awards programme to recognise and celebrate the most outstanding examples of residential architecture in the Indo-Pacific region.

The inaugural Habitus House of the Year (2018) presents 25 homes that are exemplary embodiments of how the region lives through design and includes five New Zealand homes amongst the honours.

I’m going to be sharing a few of my favourites from the New Zealand contingent, kicking off with this sunbathing beauty, Hahei House by Studio 2 Architects.

These windows slide right back, completely opening the home to the ocean like the prow of a ship
(Also, WOW suspended fireplace)


Simplicity and super clean lines in the kitchen belie a very (very) cleverly planned, super-functional space designed to host large groups, with integrated appliances and plenty o’ practicality (side-by-side ovens, for example)

The ‘night lounge’ opens out to a sheltered courtyard with massive fireplace, and behind this outdoor room is a second courtyard with a hot tub and garden. 

Polished concrete floors have the look of dappled sand, don’t you think?
(The print here is by NZ fine art photographer Kate van der Drift)

Using the American Oak everywhere brings a simplicity and substance, but I love how they’ve changed up its form in some places (like here, acting as stair balusters) to bring texture and interest.

The landscaping effectively melds the site right into the dunes – so pretty

Sliding cedar shutters stack away, allowing the house to respond to different weather and the need for privacy 

Glass Balustrades let the views stretch before you, unimpeded 

Photography by Simon Devitt

The first thing that strikes me about this house is how low-key its presence on the beachfront is. Looking up from the sand, you really don’t have a clue of the building’s true size – it has been designed in deference to the dunes, which disguise both its two-storey height and its depth. And while its angular form offers stunning contrast with the organic curves of the sand dunes, the exterior materials chosen pull back and soften that contrast. The grey-stained cedar, sandstone and light grey roofing all share a sort of sun-bleached, salt-weathered tone – like the house is a beautifully silvered piece of driftwood.

What I love most about this home is the interior palette. All those sand tones and natural textures deliver a very muted aesthetic that refuses to compete with those views, allowing your eyes to soften and your gaze to be drawn outward to the ocean.  It’s a very restful design; no visual noise. The solid American Oak  – on floors, walls, ceilings and bespoke joinery – brings real warmth, and gives the feel of the interior of a boat or cabin. (Perhaps, too, its also a small nod to the home that sat here first, a classic timber-lined Lockwood). Imagine visiting here during a wild winter storm… laying in that honeyed lounge, the suspended fire roaring, the sea and sky raging grey outside…

The space planning is very clever here. Paul Clarke and his Studio 2 team have achieved something greater than the sum of its parts, creating different wings and zones for different occasions and different times of day. So even with the house happily heaving with visiting friends and family, there’s still quiet spaces to retreat and relax. So that it’s big enough for a crowd, but intimate enough for two on a weekend escape.

Pretty easy to see why this home was selected as a Habitus House of the Year 2018.
Like to vote for it to win People’s Choice? Do it for your country! Go to habitusliving.com/houseoftheyear
(Actually, just do it because this home is amazing – and I’ll be bringing you a couple of other amazing New Zealand contenders in the coming weeks, too…)

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