It’s one of the burning questions of real estate: what do you do when the location is spot on but the house, not so much? Do you renovate or detonate?
For the owners of this Victorian villa in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden, the answer was obvious, says Richard Furze, director of Furze Architecture and Design.
“The neighbourhood has a heritage overlay, which ruled out demolition. Luckily, the owners, who are friends of mine, love the character that villas exude and were keen to restore the home. As a practice, we have about 20-odd years of working with heritage homes—villas in particular—so they tasked us with bringing their faded lady back from the past.”
The house suffered from a series of unsympathetic additions that, rather than modernise the home, left it feeling disjointed and closed off. Richard says he and the owners had many conversations around what was the best way forward and they all agreed that the only choice of action was to remove all of the additions and renovate and restore what was left.
“It really was the only way to maintain the heritage aspects they loved while providing them with the spacious, modern living they craved. The first step was securing resource consent through council’s heritage team for the works we wanted to carry out. Once that was in place, the build process was about a year with the finished result being around 30 per cent original and 70 per cent new. The original elements were brought up to a modern standard including elements such as the windows being replaced with double glazed units.
“Basically, we were left with the original bedrooms and central hallway after removing the previous additions. After extending and rebuilding the existing spaces the interior was then reconfigured and the final touch was the addition of a garage.”
Richard says the demarcation between the original property and the renovation begins around two metres back from the small stairway that now leads into the open-plan living area, however, so precise has the work been carried out that the transition is seamless.
“Internally, the house feels like a modern evolution rather than a modern change, with a contemporary feel that won’t date. Externally, there is a balance of heritage values and sympathetic updates—like the new windows—that work together to maintain the streetscape presence.
“Everything with this house comes down to attention to detail, for example, the garage is set back enough from the street so that it doesn’t detract from the heritage frontage. Similarly, the flat-roofed junction between the old and the new is only visible from the side elevation and the eaves and guttering have been kept at same height; in further fact, the guttering detail has been recessed along the sides of the house. Even inside there’s a lot of attention to detail that you can’t see—elements such as the central heating vents, which have been concealed within the risers of the stairway.”
Richard says it’s these underplayed touches, along with the sense of space that has been created, that are the real heroes of the design.
“I really like the element of surprise that has been achieved with the volume of the rear element; certainly not what you expect from the front. Also, that there is no hard transition between the two ‘halves’.
“We’ve pushed the council rules without making it look like we’ve done that; the house is quite unassuming from the street—it definitely doesn’t play all of its cards at the street frontage.”
Words by Justin Foote
Photography by Simon Devitt Photographer
As the son of a well-known Taranaki building family, I grew up on a building site and proved to be cheap labour while at school. After spending six years in the design industry in New Plymouth, I moved north to Auckland in 1996 and set up my own business.
I would describe my style as predominantly contemporary, with an emphasis on simplicity of design. I work closely with my clients to ensure that each project is individually designed to meet their unique needs and requirements, while reflecting their personality throughout. When approaching renovations, I like to consider the existing character of the home and often work to restore at the same time as renovate as part of the project, preserving the integrity of the original home.