Taipakupaku House, Wellington
Selected for The Living Channel's 'Best of New Zealand Home Design'
This family home sits on the historic Taipakupaku settlement in Karaka Bay, Wellington. The brief was to renovate, extend and consolidate the existing house, originally built around 1910, into a unique and tranquil residence.
The house occupies a threshold or transition space on the edge of the sea, on the verge of the road and at the foot of the hills behind. This notion of transition is layered through the building and landscape architecture. The living room is cantilevered over a lit water feature, creating an inside space with a sense of watery lightness. The doors of the living room peel back to the outside, extending the living room floor like the deck of a boat.
On the exterior, the structure is articulated as two volumes; the first, with a pitched timber-clad roof, echoes the neighbouring roof forms, while a second volume, embedded in the side of the first, extends and anchors the space. An interior stair void neatly effects the transition between the two volumes, stitching one into the other. Timber cladding on the exterior varies in colour, with silvery, weathered timber nearest the sea transitioning to a mixture of pale gold and a deeper, reddish bronze that links the house to the variegated bush behind it. To maintain historical continuity and to infuse the architecture with a richer personality, fragments of the original villa were retained and stitched back into the house. Careful detailing finishes the house, with a hand-carved oak front door that maps the geography of the region and the inscription of Hone Tuwhare’s poem Rain into a concrete exterior panel.
The house provides spaces through which family move in varying degrees of privacy, views, sunlight and noise; in the midst of this choreography of constant change, its jewel-like detail invites moments of contemplation, rewarding a closer look.