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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