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.
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.