Grey Lynn Renovation - Evelyn McNamara Architecture | ArchiPro

Grey Lynn Renovation

A thoroughly modern Victorian is ready for the next 100 years.

Located in one of Auckland’s heritage suburbs, this century-old villa was a remnant from the past in terms of both functionality and amenity. Strict planning constraints due to the neighbourhood’s heritage zoning, along with issues around site topography and the proximity of neighbours all conspired to make the renovation project a demanding one. 

“The original villa suffered from the typical, warren-like Victorian layout of small rooms that were not only disconnected from each other but also from the backyard,” says architect Evelyn McNamara of Evelyn McNamara Architecture. “It was also in a fairly tired state and suffered from a number of extensions that did nothing to increase its appeal.”

With the need for connection and entertainment at the forefront of the homeowners’ wishlist, Evelyn, in collaboration with Chris Tate of Chris Tate Architecture, conceived a design for this renovation project that maximised the villa’s heritage features and injected some much-needed modern-day amenity.

“The clients wanted a modern, entertainer’s house with great, year-round outdoor living,” says Chris. “Which necessitated a complete rebuild and an entirely new layout for the villa. In the process, we raised the villa 200mm, excavated out a full basement level and reinstated the heritage street elevation including returning the veranda to full-width. 

“A two-storey extension at the rear of the property houses an open-plan living area with internal access to the basement level, which in turn flows onto an outdoor room, deck and pool area.”

In keeping with planning requirements, the heritage qualities of the house remain visible from the street while the modern addition has been stepped in 400mm on each side, creating a clear demarcation between old and new. 

Colour, too, as well as the cladding profile differentiates new from old. “The material palette, both internal and external, was selected to be clean, modern and masculine, this suits the clients’ aesthetic. Black and white predominate with natural accents and neutral tones softening the overall effect,” says Evelyn.

“Externally, we took inspiration from the existing weatherboard profile of the Villa and decided to play with the idea of a criss-cross pattern on the black timber cladding of the extension. We felt this was similar to a 45 degree rotation of the weatherboards.”

This criss-cross pattern has been used to almost entirely wrap the extension, with the dark-stained cedar imparting an intimate feel to the outdoor area, over which it cantilevers. To stop the space feeling too cavern-like, the ceiling detail has been offset by a neutral plaster finish on the walls and a similarly neutral concrete floor.

For the outdoor area, the architects designed a multipurpose space that includes casual dining and a sunken lounge area that incorporates a fire pit for intimate gatherings. An outdoor kitchen and wall-mounted television completes the scheme, while glass stacking doors can completely enclose the space, elevating its status from simple outdoor space to fully functioning living room. 

“Having the flexibility to either fully enclose or fully open up the area was a request of the clients, who wanted to be able to utilise the space all year round,” says Chris. “By using glass stacking doors as ‘walls’, it meant, even when closed, we were able to maintain the all-important connection to the backyard beyond the pool and further, to the valley beyond the property.”


Words: Justin Foote
Photography: Jono Parker

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As part of the renovation process, the original heritage details of the Victorian villa were reinstated. Ultimately, the villa was raised 200mm and a basement level excavated to accommodate off-street parking and a two-storey extension at the rear.
The two-storey extension features an open-plan living area upstairs and a covered outdoor area leading onto a newly installed swimming pool.
Dark stained Western Red Cedar cladding with criss-cross detailing demarcates the new extension from the original villa.
A coloured concrete floor, along with a neutral plaster finish on the walls offsets the cedar cladding.
A conversation/fire pit is the centrepiece of the outdoor area, which can be completely enclosed with glass stacking doors.
The homeowners wanted an outdoor area that they could utilise all year round yet still maintained a direct connection to the backyard.
The neutral tone of the concrete floor was chosen to harmonise with the decking as it naturally ages over t
The side access from the street shows how the architects worked with the naturally sloping site to create two full levels.
The plaster finish on the lower level of the extension was chosen for its durability as well as its textural qualities.
The architects to their cue for the extension's cladding detail from the original villa's weatherboards, turning the horizontal lines 45 degrees.
The outdoor area offers multiple options for al fresco entertaining.
The open plan living area of the extension highlights the dichromatic colour scheme, punctuated with natural accents, to further reinforce the connection with nature through the sliding doors.
The kitchen has been designed to recede into the background through a clever use of colour and indoor plants.
The character of the original villa have been retained as much as possible while the layout was completely changed.
Stacking glass doors can be used to completely enclose the outdoor area, effectively turning it into a second lounge.
A full-height cavity door at the junction of the extension and the original villa can be pulled across to separate the two structures.
The black and white colour scheme is fully realised in the bathrooms.
The black and white colour scheme is fully realised in the bathrooms.

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