Cox Street - Fabric | ArchiPro

Cox Street

A similar narrative to many of its neighbours in Christchurch, the new build at this Cox Street address was driven by the damage caused by the 2011 earthquakes.

Making the most of a small, narrow site in the established neighbourhood, the clients wanted their new abode to complement the character homes in the street, while offering the best features of a contemporary new home.

“The form is a classic interpretation of the ‘Christchurch School’ style with its simple forms and high gables,” says Coll Architecture’s director, Mitchell Coll.

Cedar cladding was chosen for the front elevation, providing a warm counterpoint to the home’s traditional gable forms and slick white detailing. Minimalist landscaping and a low-walled street interface further create a friendly welcome for guests.

With family living as the focus of this build, it made sense for the footprint to wrap around a central point – allowing for ease of access to each space of the home.

“What we wanted to do was have a family house where everyone could have their private spaces and be able to use different areas at different times of the day, and still be connected,”

“We centralised most of the rooms where we could, around a central light well and reflection pond.”

Here, reflections of the water dance into the surrounding interior at different times of the day, creating a calm and subdued atmosphere.

But you don’t have to be in the middle of the floorplan to see the water. On entering the home, the low ceiling of the entryway creates an intimate experience and helps visitors focus their view through the louvres to the pond and further out to the private garden.

The ceiling then opens up to double-height in the foyer, which links to the rest of the home. One of the bedrooms utilises the space above the garage with a secret play nook accessed through a hatch, and the remaining bedrooms are also located upstairs.

A soothing palette of neutrals runs throughout the interior – drawing from Scandinavian and Japanese design elements that inform this style of architecture.

The cedar ceiling directs you forward through the hallway which connects to the pond. The communal area – kitchen, living and dining – is open and airy, while the separate lounge offers a cosy space for the family to gather around the fireplace.

“With a largely white house, it’s always important to bring as much texture into it as possible as it can get a bit sterile otherwise. So we tried to do that with a few of those concrete elements,” says Mitchell. As such, concrete wraps the fireplace, and features on the kitchen benchtop.

This textural and neutral materiality will allow the family to enjoy the home for years to come, acting as a blank canvas that has the ability to adapt and grow with them.

Being a family home with a potentially high energy consumption, it was also important to address energy efficiency in the design.

Window placement provides passive solar gain, while passive stack ventilation of the double-height foyer moderates temperature fluctuations. Temperature is also controlled by the light-coloured roofing and cladding – limiting overheating and reducing long-term maintenance, which in turn lowers the carbon footprint of the building.

A sustainable approach to the surrounding garden was also taken during the build, says Mitchell.

“One of the biggest challenges, which often is the case on a lot of projects, is trying to keep as much vegetation as we can. There was an existing garden with mature trees, and you can’t rebuild that.

“It was quite a challenge to keep as much of the garden as possible, especially the large tree in the front, but we managed to keep it.”

Not only delivering on style and function, a trusted partnership and friendship also stemmed from this project.

“I’d never met the clients before the project, but we’ve made a pretty solid friendship out of it. It’s always a massive bonus if you get to do the project and they absolutely love the house – that’s pretty awesome.”

ADNZ Residential Interiors Regional Winner 2021

Words: Cassie Birrer

Photography by Stephen Goodenough

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The pond can be seen on entry into the home.
Cedar on the ceiling in the entrance offers a warm welcome.
A separate living area features a fireplace and darker colour palette.
The homeowners wanted the build to complement the existing character homes on the street – cedar-clad gable forms achieve this.
Where possible, rooms have been positioned around the reflection pond.
The water reflects into the home at different times of the day.
A screen at the front of the home offers a glimpse as to what lies ahead.
Concrete elements throughout the home add texture to the white interior.
The neutral materiality of the interior will allow it to grow adapt with the homeowners.
Window placement provides passive solar gain.
Scandinavian and Japanese design elements inform the interior.
The form is a classic interpretation of the ‘Christchurch School’ style with its simple forms and high gables.
A bedroom opens to a play space above the garage.
The large existing tree at the front of the home was preserved during the build.