Talk about silver linings. When Matt and Katie Williams' new house project on the edge of a bush-lined Waikato gully was hit by a massive rainstorm, the bank at the back of the property washed away taking the existing deck with it. But what might have been a building disaster story turned into something much happier when the council responded by building a five-metre high retaining wall. “It ended up being a blessing for us, as we refined the design from a terraced deck and garden to a level-form grass area,” says Matt.
Given that the Hamilton couple has three active young children, and their 600-square metre section is not huge, the additional outdoor space for the kids to run free was prized.
Space considerations were also top of mind when it came to the design, which is by award-winning Hamilton architectural practice Edwards White. It makes the most of a constrained footprint by dividing the house into two wings, one for living, one for the bedrooms, hinged around a central covered deck. Residential Series bi-fold doors connect the open plan dining/living/kitchen area to the deck while sliding doors open out on to the lawn and the lush gully of nikau and other natives that lie beyond.
With a busy road on the south side of the property, the inclusion of large doors on the northern aspect was imperative for the family, allowing sweeping views of the gully and light to flood the living spaces. “It doesn’t feel like you’re in the city,” says Matt of the view from the living area. "With the glass walls and doors, you feel like you are basically in that bush. It brings the outdoors in.”
The other benefit of those sliding doors along the northern wall is passive heating during winter months, when the sunshine steams in to heat the polished concrete floors. And this is a very light-filled house generally, with plenty of glazing, cleverly deployed. Silver linings, indeed.