This 2016 Architectural Design Award-winning home was an exercise in redemption through creative cooperation.
Words Davina Richards
Collaboration was key to designing an architectural home that replaced an existing house lost to the 2010/2011 earthquakes. Cymon Allfrey and Don Roy of Cymon Allfrey Architecture in Christchurch were the two creative minds behind the ‘Bradnor Road’ home in Fendalton, and were awarded the 2016 National Residential New Home over 300sqm Architectural Design Award and the Residential Interiors Architectural Design Award.
Designed to accommodate a couple nearing retirement and pay homage to the owners’ love of mid-century modern architecture, the home needed to “expand functionally when grandchildren came over or they wanted to entertain,” Cymon says. There also needed to be a promise of connection between the house and its natural surroundings, and, just as importantly, a personal and emotional connection between the owner and house through the incorporation of loved qualities from the existing home. A sense of familiarity depicted through architectural language meant that the home has rooms “organised in a similar way”, and the grand living room orientates to the river.
An initial challenge posed by this project was that it was an insurance-related build. Cymon says,“There were the usual challenges of creating good architecture in an environment where a home was lost. This created obstacles in terms of size, location, scale and budget.” He adds that they wanted to make sure the house is as “visually honest as possible” and do so in a cost-effective way.
The contemporary home sits on a tree-lined cul-de-sac adjacent to the Wairarapa Stream and its defining feature is the extensive structural timber skin distinguished from the road as one drives up to the house. “Timber became a narrative that was used throughout the design and construction – it has no structural steel… Architecturally, it’s about presenting itself to the road in a simple way that was recognised to be a home,” Cymon says. Volume has been created with high-level windows, and the sloping roof addresses the sun and river.
Mapped out on one level, the simple interior is split into three main sections and follows a practical L-shaped floor plan aligned to connect the primary living spaces to the northerly river view and existing garden to the east. The kitchen and the bathroom (which was a joint effort between Cymon Allfrey Architects and Christchurch designer Davinia Sutton) wrap along the eastern edge of the house and address a courtyard accommodating two bedrooms and en suite. The study, second bathroom, master suite and garage face the road along the south boundary.
The project was a “considered design process where creativity was deliberate” and exercised the architects’ creativity and skill, as well as the ability to work together, shared through a process of respect, encouragement and support. Built by Homes by Maxim, Cymon describes the design as a “restorative process” and the design and build teams were engaged in the project and overcame obstacles together – the resulting views as you navigate through the house are a particular victory.
Judges called the design an elegant project. “Set between river and road, the building and landscape intentions are held in a sensitive balance.”
The ‘Bradnor Road’ home was one of two projects for which Cymon Allfrey Architects received an award. The other winning project, ‘Gleneagles Terrace’ by Craig South, is the creative and graceful design of two family homes and won the 2016 National Residential Multi-Unit Dwelling Architectural Design Award.