A visitor to Robyn and Graeme Ballard’s NZIA Award-winning Waikato home once confessed to some confusion. “He was standing outside talking,” says Robyn, “and he suddenly stopped and said, ‘Oh, I’m outside! I thought I was inside.’”
The anecdote illustrates just how successfully this 2015 home dissolves the threshold between inside living and multiple outdoor spaces. And given the setting, why wouldn’t you want to bring the outside in? Sited on a slight promontory above farmland in Gordonton, north-east of Hamilton, the property has boundless views to the distant Hakarimata Ranges in one direction and the Kaimais in another.
There’s no clue to this blurring of worlds when you arrive. Instead, you are struck initially by the sculptural quality of the building, with unadorned concrete forms set against an impressive expanse of dark vertical shiplap cedar, immediately followed by an impression of its scale, epitomised by the 3.5-metre high entrance door that opens to a double-height circulation space.
From there, the plan by architect Brian White of Edwards White unfolds as a sequence of interconnected alcove-like rooms, as opposed to totally open spaces. From the kitchen there are sightlines to two living areas, patio and pool, and to the dining space, which all but merges into a cosy outdoor room with fireplace.
“There can be many conversations going on in every area, but you’re still part of everything that’s happening in the house,” says Robyn.
That seamlessness is enabled by some smart joinery choices. Big full-height APL Architectural Series sliders with flush sills have been used between indoor and outside spaces, including an over-the-wall corner slider for the transition from dining area to outdoor room. For the stair void, family room and lounge, where additional insulation was required, the Ballards opted for the effective Metro ThermalHEART range. All joinery is finished in a Matt Black powdercoat and set with clean-lined and stylish Urbo hardware.
For a large house, it’s that attention to detail that perhaps most impresses. As the NZIA judges commented, “the exemplary handling of scale, materials and colour has resulted in an exceptional home”.