Clifftops

Located on the clifftops overlooking the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, this house grew from the client’s desire to have a home to cater for an intergenerational family of adult children and grandchildren. There was an enthusiasm for the house to express longevity and to be comfortable despite being generous in size.

The clients and Bossley Architects have collaborated on many previous houses and know each other well. The Brief for this house was relatively simple: it needed to be comfortable for a varying number of occupants at different times, and house the large collection of significant artworks of New Zealand and international artists. Significantly, it was to feel like “a house with art, rather than an art gallery to live in”.

The site is long and narrow, and the house reinforces this linearity with a series of walls and fins running through the house towards the sea. Two separate elements are located at the east and west ends of the site, coupled by a two-story exterior link. This creates a partially enclosed courtyard which gathers maximum sun and warmth, provides privacy from neighbouring houses, and is sheltered from the prevailing winds. This courtyard is reinforced by a screen of vertical cedar that extends out over the entry space then curves back into the interior.

A modest palette of materials features cream in-situ concrete inside and out offset against panels of marble cladding, glass-reinforced-concrete fascias, walnut flooring, cedar ceilings and purpose design aluminium joinery. Specifically designed handles feature leather wrapping and large timber pulls.

The concrete gives the house a wonderful sense of mass and solidity, while the sculptural and sinuous qualities ensure a liveliness. Natural light is offered onto the concrete surfaces to animate it and to emphasise the mass of the walls at openings. The house offers endless surprises and delight, ranging from the slow stair slipped between the curving concrete walls, to the meticulous waffle grid soffit over the gym and garage, or the vibrancy of materials and light in the various rooms.

Awards

  • City Home of the Year 2022
  • Interior Home of the Year 2022