A unique view - Building NZ
A unique view

A unique view

With a sleek design that makes the most of the coastal view and lets plenty of light into the home, this property in Riverhead appears seamless...

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

With a sleek design that makes the most of the coastal view and lets plenty of light into the home, this property in Riverhead appears seamless. Designed by Young + Richards, it was highly technical to create and to construct. The single-level contemporary house has a 25-metre sliding door looking out to the swimming pool and entertaining area that navigates a Z-shaped angle.

It is just one of the residential projects that the team at Windowmakers, one of the largest aluminium joinery fabricators in Auckland, has enjoyed working on. Managing director Heidi Johnston explains that high levels of collaboration between the architect, the builder, the client and Windowmakers’ experienced windows and doors team were needed for this complex build.

“This home is all about its oversized, full-height windows and doors that let in light and allow for connection with the environment. The client has an eye for precision, so he had extremely high expectations of quality. Every detail of the home had to be correct, down to the millimetre,” she says.

A major feature of the Riverhead home is the oversized, full-height windows and doors.

Windowmakers is unique in that the team works with the architect right from the design concept stage and, from a windows and doors perspective, manages the entire project from start to finish, including installation and automation on site, even if the parts are not manufactured in the Windowmakers factory.

Once a builder has been assigned to a specific project, the team at Windowmakers then works closely with them through details like how the joinery will attach to the building opening and how to ensure features such as large voids meet strict building standards.

All the windows and the doors in the Riverhead project are completely custom made and designed. At least six of the Windowmakers team were involved and the build was completed in three different stages in sequence with the different wings of the house. From start to finish, the joinery portion of the project took about nine months, due to the size and detailed nature of the house.

“Our project manager worked with the architect on the exact details of the extrusions for at least a year before the build started,” Heidi says. “Because one entire face of the house is composed completely of floor-to-ceiling massive sliding door panels, and the fact that it is a coastal property, means that high levels of discussion and collaboration were needed to design this unique home.”

Designing windows and doors into homes on coastal sites involves extra challenges around the effects of sea spray, and wind and water loadings. The integrity of the joinery’s finish, the hardware and the glass type used are all equally important to get right.

Heidi says that, with coastal homes, either a Duratec or an anodised product is suitable for the finish of the joinery. Often, there is also a colour aesthetic that will be an integral part of the design and will need to be considered. In terms of hardware, the product must be able to withstand all weather conditions thrown at it and not corrode with sea spray.

The Riverhead home by Young + Richards.

Coastal design problems were an issue in this Riverhead home and the size and weight of the sliding door panels was also a consideration. “These panels can weigh up to 400 kilograms so good-quality hardware is essential. It’s best to choose a handle that can be pulled on as opposed to a flush pull, as it’s no use having that fabulous indoor-outdoor flow that everyone wants if the door doesn’t open easily. Functionality of the little things is equally important,” explains Heidi.

Due to the amount of glazing used in the Riverhead project, the ability to have a flat, seamless threshold, where you can easily walk from inside to out, needed to be cleverly designed. “We had to work out a way of smoothly integrating the different types of tracks, so it would appear like one long continuous piece of extrusion and sliding door. It has turned out very well,” Heidi says.

Windows and doors are often elements of the building envelope that are not given much attention by homeowners but, as well as being functional, they are also an important design element. Heidi explains, “People often focus on the plan or elevation of what their home will look like but, when they move in, 99 per cent of their time is spent in the interior of the home. Careful planning and discussion of where to place windows and doors and how the layout works best is crucial to frame views and create flow.”

The Windowmakers’ team, which consists of highly experienced window and door design specialists, has the philosophy that working closely with the client to build a quality relationship based on good communication is crucial. “At Windowmakers, we are massive advocates of industry training and, ideally, we want everyone who touches the joinery to be trade qualified. We currently have five apprentices working towards their New Zealand certificate in architectural aluminium joinery,” says Heidi.

Prospective customers are welcome to visit the purpose-built Windowmakers design centre in Silverdale to receive hands-on help. “If you’ve never built a house before, then it’s hard to know where to start,” she suggests. “There are literally thousands of different types of extrusions we can put together to make a customised project, so we like to work together with our clients to create a completely personalised solution.”

To learn more about custom window and door solutions, see Windowmakers on ArchiPro or visit the team at the Silverdale design centre.

A tranquil bathing experience with a view.
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