The north-facing site with panoramic views is located high up on Clifton Hill, on a sunny nodal point overlooking Sumner Beach across to Scarborough. The project was an earthquake rebuild, and from the outset, we wanted to pay homage to the original character Hurst Seager-designed home built from salvaged materials taken from one of the first European ships which sailed to New Zealand. The ship was dismantled and used for construction, with beams in the original house even featuring people's names engraved in them.
The essence of our design was to retain and reflect on the history of the building that was there prior. To do this, vertical windows and ornate embellishments were reflected in a contemporary way. We modified the closed original layout and transformed it into open plan living, maximising views in all directions: from Scarborough in one direction, all the way around to Brighton and the Southern Alps in the other.
Original painted totara cladding was replaced with cedar weatherboard clear-finished to blend into the heavily planted landscape. The owners were ecstatic with the memory retained and reflected from the original building into the new one — it carried the same spirit as the original building. This was achieved by exaggerating design cues from the original house — such as extending interior and exterior doors to very tall 2.7 metres. These tall openings not only ensured the original cottage was remembered, but also increased sun penetration throughout the home.
The new building is two storey, with the lower floor designed to be able to be used independently with its own access, and the upper-level designed to maximise mobility to future-proof living requirements.