We catch up with architect Julian Guthrie, who designed this home on a cliff above Muriwai Beach that sits rock-solid in sunshine and storms
Design notebook, Q&A with architect Julian Guthrie
This is a dramatic but exposed site. Is that why you decided on the anchoring concrete wall?
Yes. The wall provides both a physical and metaphorical buttress to the southerly winds, counterbalancing the extensive glass of the rest of the living room. It also creates a thermal storage mass to absorb and release heat, making the home more thermally comfortable year round.
The owners initially had a bigger house in mind, but in the end asked for a smaller, three-bedroom, 130-square-metre design. It’s turned out to be exactly what they wanted, hasn’t it?
It has. The global financial crisis paused the initial project, and allowed time for our clients to reconsider their requirements. They wanted to prioritise the quality of the home in terms of both design aspects and build quality, in preference to larger, but otherwise poorer, spaces.
Is it a lesson for clients who think they need more space?
Space is experienced as both a volume and expansiveness of outlook, rather than square metreage. Efficient use of space also can create a home that feels larger than many homes with a greater footprint. We certainly steer our clients to consider quality of space over quantity.
What are your favourite aspects of the house?
I am thrilled by the rich variety of experiences that the house invokes within a relatively compact area. It is dramatically open at the cliff edge, and yet hunkered into the hill within the bedrooms, both a fortress and a pavilion at the same time.
Photography by: Patrick Reynolds. Production by: Yvette Jay.