Photography: Charlie Jackson
Karen Pasco looks through one of Christchurch’s most prestigious apartment blocks, Parkbridge, and its new pool house, designed by Warren and Mahoney, and built by Summitbuild.
The impetus for living in what many New Zealanders would call non-conventional spaces is often born from circumstance or inspiration from others. For Gowan and Glenda Pickering the motivation to live in the Parkbridge apartment opposite Hagley Park was brought on by these very things.
Gowan’s job at IBM saw the couple travel the globe – New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Jakarta were all destinations they called home for periods of time. This meant when they returned to New Zealand they wanted to replicate the easy lifestyle they had become familiar with, far from the conventional quarter-acre section many New Zealanders aspire to have.
“We had become accustomed to apartment living. I like that we can lock this place up and go away and don’t have to worry. We have a beautiful garden but don’t have to do any of the work, a pool, and underground parking, so we’re dry in all weathers. It’s a really simple way to live,” says Glenda.
For the past five years the couple has resided in their 275sqm property overlooking Hagley Park. Although on what many would call a busy corner of central Christchurch, the traffic noise is minimal and the clever original design by Sir Miles Warren means the hedge conceals Park Terrace and the park becomes a continuation of the beautiful traditional gardens.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom residence is a statement in how nothing need be compromised when creating collective living. Wide halls, spacious bathrooms and sizeable bedrooms make sure this is a luxurious place to call home.
The living space is a long double-aspect room, which encompasses the formal lounge, dining and more informal sitting area with the kitchen just off to the side. Glenda has cleverly created different rooms within this long space by using a darker colour at either end to almost shorten
The interior is a testament to the global life they have lived, with treasures adorning walls and side tables – many with an Asian influence (though Glenda admits she is now trying to cull her bits and pieces as she continues to make life even easier). In the master bedroom suite the voluminous space is enhanced with shimmer and light from the wallpaper and soft furnishings.
In the early morning, the couple sits on the east side of the building with the sun streaming in as they enjoy reading the paper. The balcony is just the place to sit on a summer’s evening and watch the world go by, says Glenda.
“I love it here because the view is ever-changing. We watch mums push prams, runners and the different seasons in the park. You are never lonely because there are people always around and nobody can see in.”
Unfortunately, in the February 2011 earthquake, the apartment block was affected by the grounds dropping 300mm. The two historic buildings, Fleming House and McKellar House, which the apartment block was originally designed around, were deemed unrepairable.
Residents have moved out one by one as the apartment remediation work was undertaken. Gowan and Glenda’s home was the first to undergo repairs, overseen by Warren and Mahoney architect Guy Evans and undertaken by Summitbuild.
Also impacted was the pool house, a communal swimming area frequented by inhabitants throughout the year. Guy was tasked with the redesign of this building, too, taking into account the needs of the body corporate as well as the surrounds. “The design brief was to put it back but reconfigure a few things. One of them was to open up to a new barbecue area.”
This recreational area includes a pool, changing room and outdoor entertaining space.
The terracotta tiled roof was replaced with copper to compliment the surrounding buildings, and this lighter weight covering offered more flexibility in the pool house design.
The exterior wall, which curls around the whole apartment development, was inspiration for the new curved roofline and glass wall of the pool enclosure. The interior gabled ceiling with its stern off-centre steel work creates an interesting juxtaposition.
Guy was inspired by artist James Turrell who specialises in light and space workss. The vivid blue light that provides a bright hue in the pool is a nod to his work. The blue tiled wall at the end of the pool gives depth and provides a contrast to the otherwise pale décor.
It is here residents come for fun or physical fitness and where they can indeed bask in the joy of knowing they have made their lives less complicated in a luxurious setting.