Saddle House, Wellington Home, New Zealand Luxury Building, NZ Architecture, Property Images
Saddle House in Wellington
27 Apr 2023
Design: Wallace Architects
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Photos: Paul McCredie
Saddle House, Wellington
Situated on a gently sloping site with stunning views of the harbour and ocean, the spacious Saddle House has been thoughtfully designed to optimize both sunlight and vistas. The primary circulation axis of the house is centered on the saddle of the hill beyond, creating a focal point of the west coast ocean upon entering that expands as one moves throughout the residence.
From a double height entry space the house steps down and opens out to reveal a dramatic vista of the Porirua Harbour inlet and up towards Whitireia Park Reserve.
Large honed black oxide concrete block walls frame the views and amplify the sense of drama. The side wall of the central living space angles out to embrace the full width of views and the ceiling is raised to let in maximum light. Lined with beautiful light timber veneer plywood the ceiling in this space provide warmth and contrast to the concrete block walls.
The exposed concrete blocks create a feeling of timeless durability that stands in contrast to the generous use of glass and the lightness of the vertical cedar cladding. This design choice also allows the house to be partially buried in the landscape reducing the visual bulk of the large garage from the street. Combined with the concrete floor slab, the concrete blocks also help to create a sense of tranquility and stability amidst the dynamic weather conditions!
The outdoor areas were also an important organising element of the design. The main area is located to the north directly off the living room and is essentially another room with a fireplace and overhead operable roof. There is another courtyard space to the east of the house, off the kitchen that provides a more intimate area for outdoor living that is sheltered from the wind.
The upper floor accommodates 4 bedrooms and a family sitting room.
This stunning house is also a result of the owners experience and vision and the builders Matthew Palmer Construction incredible attention to detail.
What was the brief?
Our clients, with extensive experience in the building industry, had a clear vision for their new house. With a bustling household consisting of 3 teenage children and 2 dogs, they required a home that could accommodate a variety of activities and social gatherings.
It was important that the design celebrated the expansive views and incorporated a generous amount of well positioned glazing to maximise sunlight but not overheat. There was also a desire to incorporate a range of spatial experiences by modulating ceiling heights and offering distinct but connected social spaces. They also expressed a strong desire for a meticulously crafted home that utilized high-quality materials.
The house was to include 4 bedrooms, an office, a separate sitting room, open plan living with an adjacent lounge that could be closed off, and a computer nook. The kitchen was to include a large scullery and be connected to an outdoor courtyard area. Also, a laundry and a spacious family bathroom and a large 2 car garage that could double as a games room and storage area.
In terms of outdoor space, our clients emphasized the importance of including the outdoor space into the overall project design and for it not to be an afterthought. It was important that alternative spaces were created that could be enjoyed in different wind & sun conditions, planters were also to be accommodated into the design.
Overall, the design needed to strike the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics, incorporating a range of spaces to cater to the family’s lifestyle while utilizing quality materials and providing ample natural light and views.
What were the key challenges?
The task at hand was to construct a house on a newly developed subdivision while ensuring that it blended into the surrounding landscape and could develop a sense of belonging. It was also important that the house contributed to creating a cohesive neighbourhood and streetscape. Many of the neighbouring houses had been erected by design/build companies for selling, resulting in a lack of connection to the area and poorly considered spaces between the houses and site boundaries. Although the landowners had attempted to promote original builds tailored to the owner-occupiers, only a handful had opted for custom builds with the assistance of an architect.
What were the solutions?
The key challenges of designing a house in a new subdivision were overcome by employing several different strategies. We created a split level that steeped the house down the hillside to follow the natural contours of the land, this kept the connection to the landscape and allowed for a dramatic opening up towards the views as you moved through the house.
Also that garage was partially buried and rotated perpendicular to the street to reduce its bulk and minimize its impact on the streetscape.
Furthermore, the landscape design played a crucial role in integrating the house into the site. By stepping the house walls along the side boundary, we were able to create sheltered courtyard spaces flanked by low plastered landscape walls that created planters. This careful consideration of the landscape design was instrumental in ensuring that the house seamlessly blended in with its surroundings while providing functional and inviting outdoor living spaces.
Key products used:
To provide a sense of both solidity and lightness, the house design utilized a mix of Viblock Architectural masonry concrete blocks and vertical cedar random width boards on timber framing. The selection of materials was strategic, serving both aesthetic and functional purposes. The exposed, honed masonry played an essential role in enabling the garage to be semi-buried into the landscape without the need for an additional retaining wall. Additionally, the concrete walls appeared through the central axis of the house and provided “fin” walls to the main living space, which splayed out to embrace the stunning views. In addition to their timeless solidity, the concrete walls regulated indoor temperature and provided a quiet calmness amidst dynamic weather conditions.
The stained random width vertical cedar, on the other hand, offered a visual warmth in contrast to the concrete, and the natural variety provided texture to the exterior elevations. Vertical cedar battens appear on the exterior privacy screen, fencing, and some of the interior finishes, contributing to the overall warmth and texture of the house. The main living area features a beautiful light birch plywood ceiling, complemented by David Truebridge pendant lighting, while light oak timber flooring throughout the ground floor adds warmth and functionality to the design.
Large aluminium sliding doors and windows with high performance glass provide generous openings to the views, with toplights for natural ventilation. These areas are protected by overhangs to provide the right amounts of shade in the summer and enough sunlight entry in winter. The owners have commented about how comfortable the house is all year round.
Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?
Nathan and Annette Flett and their 3 teenage children often find themselves the hosts to large gatherings of young people this provided a design challenge and interest to the project. We understood the importance of having a home that provides a variety of spaces for entertainment and relaxation. While requiring their own separate areas for studying or socializing with friends, the family also values larger, open spaces where they can come together and spend time with one another and their guests. As such, their home needed to offer a balance between private and communal spaces, providing ample room for hosting gatherings and entertaining guests while also allowing each family member to have their own personal space. This need for both privacy and togetherness was a key consideration in the design of their home.
Also, as owners of a successful large painting company which has been responsible of the painting of many of Wellingtons high-end residential projects, Nathan and Annette came to the project with a wealth of experience and a clear vision. Together with the skilled builder they were able to maintain a great attention to detail through out the project.
How is the project unique?
The projects uniqueness stems from the owner’s meticulous attention to detail and unwavering commitment to creating their ideal family home. They were actively involved in every aspect of the project, from concept to completion, resulting in a house that is perfectly tailored to them. They also carefully selected the team of architect and builder whom they trusted completely, allowing them to carry out their vision with confidence and precision.
Saddle House in Wellington, NZ – Building Information
Architecture: Wallace Architects – Melling Architects
Engineers: Clendon Burns and Park
Builder: Matthew Palmer Construction
Cabinetry: Kitchen Elements
Project size: 306 sqm
Site size: 654 sqm
Completion date: 2022
Building levels: 2
Photography: Paul McCredie
Saddle House, Wellington, New Zealand images / information received 270423
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