The winning house from Home of the Year has much to teach city dwellers about how to live. We chat to architect Christopher Beer about his inspiring design
Q&A with architect Chris Beer
Was your creativity stifled by the budget at all?
The restricted budget actually necessitated creativity. We knew what we wanted to achieve aesthetically and spatially, but that it had to be cost-effective – which many times necessitated using off-the-shelf items in creative ways. Countertops, for example, are silicone-joined marble tiles rather than a solid slab – at around one eighth the cost. Architects thrive on constraints, whether they are a tight budget, a difficult site or a complex programme. Combine this with a brave, creative client and an interesting outcome is certain.
The home runs right to the property’s boundary. How did you manage to create a feeling of openness and space?
The courtyards are essential. The interior spaces open onto them through strategically placed glazed doors – many of which disappear into walls when opened – allowing the courtyards to be used easily and extensively, which greatly enhances the perception of openness. Basically, they double the apparent floor area, creating the feeling of a much larger home.
How did you get permission to build the home in a commercial zone?
The council’s current district plan allowed residential use on the site, but the proposed plan restricted this to the first floor and above. We were aware of the proposed change so we had to rush to obtain resource consent for the project before the new plan was enacted.
Were there any challenges in working with friends as clients on the project?
Our relationship was a great benefit. It allowed for complete honesty in our discussions and meant that I had an intimate understanding of how Karen and Grant live (having previously shared a flat in London). Our friendship meant they had a great deal of trust in my ability – the challenge was to live up to this!
Words by: Aimie Cronin. Photography by: Patrick Reynolds.