House at River Terrace
River Terrace is a short cul-de-sac on the northern slopes of Herne Bay, a leafy inner city suburb of Auckland. The site is north facing and sits one row back from the shore of the Waitematā harbour.
The neighbourhood is characterised by generous sized lots, low densities, an abundance of trees and dwellings predominantly in the style of period villas.
Although located at the end of a cul-de-sac, privacy is an issue as the site is overlooked by neighbouring properties. This, and the desire to maximise living area on one level, led to the idea of a courtyard house.
The U-shaped plan forms a private grassed court which is held by the pool and its enclosing walls on the western side. The garage sits below the northern wing, making use of the sloping topography.
A second floor – articulated as a louvred ‘lantern’ with a hipped roof – sits above the southern wing, placing the tallest mass of the building in the location of the old bungalow which it replaces.
The main form of the house is complemented by a series of added volumes which are partially ‘pushed’ into the main mass. These additions contain special rooms like the snug, playroom and master bathroom. This approach references the architecture of neighbouring period villas, with their additions of bay windows, porches and lean-tos.
The conceptual idea also informed the house’s materiality. Silver stained timber is used for the main mass and dark stained timber for the additions – which is continued into the inside. The lowest floor is constructed as a rendered masonry plinth, which together with the stone clad pool and surrounding walls anchor the house in the landscape.