Art Houses

The home was designed a decade ago by Pip Cheshire of Cheshire Architects (with assistance from Kendon McGraill); Stephen Bambury describes living there as "like living inside one of my paintings".

Indeed, Patrick Reynolds' photos of the house - those that I'm using in this post didn't make it into our article - beautifully capture the connections between Stephen's rigorous, meditative paintings and his home.

One of the best things about the house is its connection with its garden. Stephen has long been fascinated with the exquisite walled gardens of Suzhou, near Shanghai, where in more elegant times Beijing's leading civil servants retired to create beautiful calligraphy while (presumably) sipping tea and watching the seasons change.

One of the nice things about focusing on 'Art Houses' in our current issue is that it gave us a good excuse to photograph the Auckland home of artist Stephen Bambury and his wife Jan.

(Some of these gardens are now World Heritage Sites - Suzhou is only an hour from Shanghai, so you should definitely visit if you're ever in the area.

The Bamburys' garden is as restrained and, in its own contemporary way, as pleasing as those in Suzhou. It is also a reminder that, in our view-obsessed nation, a small view of a garden on a constrained city site can be as pleasing as a massive coastal vista. To prove this point, some more of Patrick's shots:

Designing from Inside out

The Arrowtown architect Max Wild, who designed a home that was a finalist in our Home of the Year award in 2007, has another home in our upcoming June issue that was commissioned by Sam Neill for the manager of his Two Paddocks vineyard in Earnscleugh, near Clyde. Here's one of Paul McCredie's photographs of it.

One of the interesting things about Max's architecture is that he strives not to create beautiful objects, but homes that are beautiful to live in. And while the home in the photograph above is not conventionally beautiful, it performs superbly in Earnscleugh's sizzling summers and deathly cold winters. Here's what Max had to say about it in our interview with him earlier today:

In a way [this house] is reverting to what I understood to be the early modernist ideal of a building being discovered by how it plays through the year, of environmental control as aesthetics. We've reached the point where a building’s aesthetic is what it looks like, but that seems less profound than how it makes you feel. When you come in the front door [of this house] it’s quite neat because often it’s such an improvement on the day outside. If it’s cold outside, inside it’s bright and warm. I’m not saying it’s a masterwork of architecture, but that’s the point of it – it’s hopefully a reasonably straightforward, pleasurable response.

You get a clearer idea of what Max is talking about when you see the home's light-filled interior, with its simple materials and generous spaces.

Max says magazines are partly guilty of propagating the idea that the form of a house - how it looks in the landscape - is of greater importance than how it performs or feels to live in. Point taken - we admit to being seduced by plenty of homes that fit this description in the past, and probably will continue to be - but we also believe the best architects are always conscious of the experience of being inside a building, and of the importance of comfort. Hopefully homes like this one by Max will get people thinking about assessing homes for more than just their visual appearance, and lead to a deeper consideration of what a home should be.

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My Favorite Building

We like Christchurch textile artist Vita Cochran (and her work) so we knew she was a good candidate to choose a building for our 'My Favourite Building' page. And she did - choosing not a wreckage, but a building that symbolises Christchurch's modern, progressive side and embodies the city's post-earthquake determination: The New Brighton Library, designed by Warren & Mahoney. The photograph is by Stephen Goodenough.

Here's what Vita wrote for us about the building:

"I love this building because of its inspired siting: a wonderful modern library, a building with personality, in the sandhills of New Brighton beach. It's elliptical and aerodynamic, nautical without being heavy-handed, with a roof like folded insect wings and sunshades on one face which suggest paper kites. In winter you can sit in a window seat with a pile of books and look out at the waves crashing just metres away, while being sheltered from the freezing easterly. In summer you can get your magazines out and read them on the beach.

"I love that the building is unashamedly modern yet it sits easily with the 1934 clock tower at its Western entrance. It embraces the wonderful windswept Monterey Cypress on its north side and it doesn't overpower the sand-blasted, salt-coated scruffy charm of the rest of New Brighton. It is welcoming, always busy. A small sign asks you remove sandy towels and beach gear before entering; otherwise it just lets you get on and enjoy it. Happily, though it is in the city's damaged eastern suburbs, the library came through the earthquakes with only minor cosmetic damage. It was soon open to the public again with its shelves full beyond capacity, carrying material from other quake-damaged Christchurch libraries which remain closed."

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March Cover Home Magazine

Here's our new cover, which will be on newsstands February 1. This is our annual 'Art Houses' issue; the cover image was taken by photographer Jeremy Toth in an Auckland penthouse with an extraordinary art collection (the penthouse was designed by Cheshire Architects).

The skull artworks are by Andy Warhol, while the koru work in the background is by Gordon Walters. The sculpture on the hearth is by Francis Upritchard, and the carvings in the background are 19th-century ancestral protection figures from Belu, Timor. 

Also in this issue: we visit artist Judy Millar's windswept home and studio (designed by Richard Priest) on a dramatic clifftop west of Auckland, Sarah Maxey's 1980s Wellington cottage by Roger Walker, a vineyard home in Hawkes Bay by Hillery Priest Architects, and some beautiful marae on the Mahia Peninsula, among many other things. We'll post outtakes from some of these shoots over the coming weeks. 

Sarah Maxey's house will be featured on TV3's Sunrise tomorrow morning at about 8.40pm. We'll also post the link to that footage once it's available online.

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House of Light

After living in a 1950s rambler for roughly 20 years, Charles and Charlotte Perret became fascinated with a home in their Chevy Chase neighborhood that had been built by Anthony Wilder Design/Build. When they met to discuss remodeling possibilities, Wilder and architect JP Ward introduced the couple to a concept design by renowned DC architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, a “Dream Home” created in 1998 for Life magazine’s annual feature that showcased a home by a well-known architect. “We fell in love with it,” recalls Charlotte. “It is exactly our taste: the simplicity and little oddities such as the oversized chimney—which we love.”

The home's gabled forms are a trademark of Hugh Newell Jacobsen's designs.
This flagstone bridge with glass rails was one of Anthony Wilder's adaptations to the original plan.
The Perrets decided to tear down their house and build a Dream Home of their own. They purchased Jacobsen’s design and turned to Wilder to adapt it to their site and their own specific needs. Five years later, their Jacobsen-concept/Wilder-built home has won local, regional and national awards from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The home displays such typical Jacobsen trademarks as simple gabled forms and linear rooflines. It consists of two pavilions joined in the center by a third housing the main living area. The right pavilion houses the kitchen and dining room while the other contains the master bedroom and two other rooms that double as home offices and guest rooms, each with its own loft.

Wilder and Ward customized the home while preserving its clean lines and amplifying the light. In fact, this house is all about light.

Bold artwork and furnishings in the foyer set the tone for the clean-lined, modern interiors.
The living room opens to the vaulted porch and back terrace, where comfortable furniture creates an inviting locale for al fresco gatherings.

In the foyer, daylight streams through three small dormers to highlight white walls and ebony-hued hickory floors. Spotlights suspended from the ceiling illuminate a painting of Istanbul’s harbor by the homeowners’ daughter, Eugenie Perret; a bench from Minima, her contemporary furniture showroom in Philadelphia, sets the minimalist tone for the rest of the house.

Another of Eugenie’s paintings occupies the space above the living room fireplace, creating an exciting, kinetic focal point. Individual gas jets and a long, narrow firebox offer a novel take on the traditional hearth.

The dining room and kitchen flow together, yet the dining room reflects a refined sensibility that separates it from the spacious, functional kitchen. Rectangles of draped cloth soften the fluorescent ceiling light. Bright red lacquered cabinetry adds drama to the room.

As the design neared completion, Charlotte expressed the desire for a screened porch. In response, the designers created a roomy living space with a vaulted ceiling of Kalwall, a translucent material that blocks out solar gain on a bright day. Doors from the living room, master bedroom and kitchen often remain open to the porch in pleasant weather.

Beyond the porch, a terrace of marble steps down to a pool. With a perimeter of gravel, the marble rests slightly above grade, visually denying the heft of the stone. At night, lights embedded in the gravel illuminate a red concrete wall and the marble bench slicing through it. “That bench weighs over 1,300 pounds,” Wilder says. “It took 12 people to pick it up and slide it into the wall.” Firmly suspended, the bench appears to float.

After the first phase was complete, the Perrets decided they wanted more space to accommodate visiting children and grandchildren. Utilizing the basement was the obvious option, though it was dark. With the marble decks in the rear, excavating the front of the property was the only possible solution for adding more space.

A painting by Eugenie Perret makes a bold statement above the fireplace in the living space that joins the home's main pavilions.
Kalwall, an opaque composite, clads the vaulted ceiling of the porch, admitting light but blocking heat gain.

Wilder’s team expanded the lower level toward the front of the house; it now consists of a large entertainment area, an exercise room and a guest room and bath. Windows in the front of the house and an open stair well from the master bedroom pour plenty of daylight into these spaces.

The excavation inspired Wilder and Ward to create a below-grade courtyard outside the lower rooms, traversed by a flagstone bridge leading to the front door. A small stand of bamboo reaches upward, softening the austerity of the entry.
Red lacquered cabinets by Neff, an oversized Silestone island and built-in wine refrigerators marry form and function in the kitchen.
The dining room in the kitchen pavilion overlooks the back terrace; windows on three sides bathe the space in natural light.
The design team concealed the pool machinery behind a red wall, which acts as a visual and sound barrier.

In the master bedroom, light from the expanse of windows fills the room, which overlooks the pool. The tranquil master bath maximizes space. Twin vanities are separated by a passage to the shower behind one vanity and a toilet behind the other. Natural light flows down to the shower and bathtub from skylights above.

This iconic, contemporary Dream Home is now filled with energy generated by the sun—and by modern innovation.

Contributing writer Barbara Karth resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Photographer Timothy Bell splits his time between Washington, DC, and New York.

PROJECT DESIGN: HUGH NEWELL JACOBSEN, FAIA, Jacobsen Architecture LLC, Washington, DC; adapted by ANTHONY WILDER and JP WARD, AIA, Anthony Wilder Design/Build, Inc., Cabin John, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: ROB FARRIE, project manager, Anthony Wilder Design/Build, Inc. LANDSCAPE DESIGN: ANTHONY WILDER and GEORGE BOTT, Anthony Wilder Design/Build, Inc. INTERIOR DESIGN: KARY EWALT, Anthony Wilder Design/Build.

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home design and building/remodeling features. Wonderful visuals of custom homes and eco-friendly resources are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design and remodeling projects to life.

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