Gower Residence - Imagine Architecture | ArchiPro NZ

Gower Residence

  • Designer:                     Tony Biesiek – Imagine Building Design
  • Photography:               Kallan MacLeod
  • Site area:                      759m2
  • Floor area:                   295m2

Project Description:

A friendship going back many years forged on the wet and muddy side-lines of children’s winter sports was the starting point for the Gower / Imagine design relationship.  Having lived in a new, out of the catalogue home previously the Gower’s realised a more bespoke approach was required if they were to get their desired outcome for this narrow site. A brief that asked for 4 bedrooms, 3 living areas, double + garaging, access to views and sun from the upper level all wrapped in a modern and unique envelope. Two of the living spaces would be on the upper level, each with its own deck. The third living space served as a children’s breakout space, away from the grown-ups.

With civil engineering experience in the client’s skill set along with access to heavy machinery, importing fill and creating an engineered platform for the house was a cost-effective strategy which also ensure a constant elevation was achieved to maintain the views. In creating the platform, it was still important that the connection between the house and the rear of the site and establish trees was carefully considered so a strategy of linking the lower lounge via a rear deck and the connecting landscaping would be key to achieving this.

Design Features and Creative Solution:

The approach to the design of this house was to strike a balance between a modern aesthetic and a modest budget. The key driver’s for keeping a close eye on costs were the level building platform and a simple rectangular plan. The aesthetic narrative was built around the confidant, extruded form of the upper level roof, rear wall and floor creating a bold street façade. The exterior material palette is kept simple with the “inner box” form being cedar clad whilst the protrusions being formed with pure, white, plastered elements. Pergola frames at each cast playful shadows. Quality landscaping, particularly at the street front were key in completing the look.

The narrative of the extruded forms supports the sustainability and passive solar design initiatives. The overhang dimensions have been calculated to provide shade from the high angle summer sun yet permit penetration of winter sun deep into the living spaces at either end of the house through the high-level glazing. Placement of rooms provide a balance of optimal access to sun, light, and views. Thermal performance is well above code with friction fit insulation and high-performance aluminium window joinery.


“I think white is the most wonderful colour of all, because within it one can find every colour of the rainbow.” Richard Meier – Architect

The pitched ceilings with high level glazing provide a sense of space and volume. A greater connection to the outdoors, access to light. These volumes feature at each end of the upper level and are connected by a lower ceiling in between. Placement of rooms and glazing provide a balance of optimal access to sun, light, and views. Bathrooms and utility spaces occupy the southern areas of the plan with the en-suite, being elevated to the upper level enjoying a peek of Mt Taranaki when it chooses to show itself.

The interior of this home is a result of embracing the designer’s interest in the work of American architect Richard Meier. To quote Meier “Whiteness allows the architectural ideas to be understood most clearly - the difference between opacity and transparency, solid and void, structure and surface. These things are more perceptible in a white environment. They have a greater clarity.” To this end whiteness is pursued in the walls, ceilings, kitchen, and furnishings. Clarity is seen through natural light during the day and artificial light at night, the result becoming the decoration and the drama. Always changing, never constant.

Entering the home via the front door, one is greeted by a two-tier chandelier suspended in a double height void. The multitude of crystals play the light, be it natural or artificial, direct or indirect. Beyond is a bridge connecting each end of the house, and further behind the stairs connect the house vertically with a lift discreetly tucked alongside.

The kitchen is a generous space, the social hub of the home. It is complemented by a large scullery that does the job of concealing benchtop appliances well. Kitchen and scullery both enjoy mountain views. Face the other way, the ocean and coastline are visible in the distance through large dining room glazing, itself leading out to a small morning deck.  Bathrooms show restraint with the same white palette. Colour is splashed into the spaces through the wood toned fixtures and aqua toned mosaic tiles.

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