Located in the affluent suburb of Fendalton in Christchurch’s inner north-west, this new home has, like many in the city, replaced an earthquake damaged property, providing architectural designer Darren O’Neil with an opportunity that may never otherwise have come about.

“The former house was deemed uneconomic to repair and so, a rare and unique invitation presented itself in the form of a large, blank canvas within the leafy, blue-chip suburb. We, myself and co-designer David Rea, were given complete autonomy and freedom over the aesthetic direction of our clients’ home, which allowed us to position the new home to create a sense of arrival and also to capture the sun and to maximise the lawn to the north.

“The no-holds-barred approach afforded by the clients allowed for so much creative scope; we were able to self-indulge and to relish the opportunity to create what can only be described as a designer’s dream home.”

The owners asked for an elegant, easy-living home that would be dramatic, striking and sophisticated rather than flashy. The result is a contemporary sculpture that has an almost tongue-in-cheek reference to the type of home you would expect of a James Bond villain, says Darren.

“The main influence of the design is simplicity of composition and purity of form. While the home has a definite geometric elegance, there is a hidden playfulness to be found within the structural intricacies. The expansive cantilevered master suite wing is dramatically supported by three dynamic, deftly placed prongs; further tying into the underlying ‘007’ alter ego of the design.

Programmatically, the house has been separated into four zones. The first, the arrival court and entry, sets up the expectation with its expansive lawn and runway-like path. The second zone comprises the inner entry and living spaces, which surround and flow onto the third zone, the integrated outdoor spaces and swimming pool. The final zone contains the private spaces—the bedrooms and study—most of which are located upstairs in the cantilevered element.

“Material variety was an important aspect of the design. The muted, near-monochromatic colour palette allows the architecture to speak for itself. Uncomplicated but sophisticated, the compilation of soft greys and neutral shades lends itself perfectly to the elegant, simplistic, aesthetic direction.

“We chose the exterior materials and colours to enhance the simple composition of forms and not to distract from the sculptural nature of these forms by adding to much texture or colour. This house is more striking thanks to its restrained material and colour palette, rather than less so.”

Internally, Lume Design took a similar approach with the interior palette as was ascribed to the architecture, says Darren, keeping the interior colours and textures simple, calming and serene.

“For me the simplicity of the home is everything. The clients have ended up with exactly what they wanted—although they didn’t expect what we gave them—a home that is quietly elegant while at the same time striking and considered.”


Words by Justin Foote

O'Neil Architecture
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Cantilever House | O'Neil Architecture | ArchiPro
The material palette was chosen for its clean lines and quality finish
The material palette was chosen for its clean lines and quality finish
Flush sill
Flush sill
Full-height automatic doors
Full-height automatic doors
Dark timber paneling
Dark timber paneling
Natural stone walls
Natural stone walls
Subterranean garage
Subterranean garage

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With over 20 years experience and an extensive portfolio of award winning homes, O'Neil Architecture has built a solid reputation designing architectural homes. 

Founder and Principal Architectural Designer Darren O’Neil leads this small boutique office, along with Senior Designer Jacinda Shirley, Senior Technical Designer Phil Ngenang, and Practice Manager Lucy Ross. We specialise and focus on high quality residential design with the purpose of providing exceptional outcomes by intentionally limiting the number of projects undertaken.

Whilst being design driven, our practice has a firm interest in the feasibility and pragmatics of construction. We listen to your needs and amalgamate your brief with our aesthetic direction, the specific site requirements, and environmental considerations. Our priority is ensuring our documentation is of the highest quality to assist your builder in creating an inspired, timeless, and elegant home.

This comprehensive approach provides our clients with the stress free, rewarding experience they deserve; and a truly superb house that will exceed all expectations.

We offer professional services from conception to completion. We’re different because we do not apply a standard percentage like many other practices. Each project is assessed and quoted individually, our fee structure is competitive and depending on the project we can usually offer a fixed price quotation.