Parsons House - MC Architecture Studio | ArchiPro

Parsons House

Christchurch’s Mount Pleasant more than lives up to its name. The majority of houses on the steep hill face north and take in not only light and sun, but panoramic views of the sea and city. Yet, as is the case with many seafront sites, exposure to the elements and steep topography can make designing and building a home a challenge.

Such was the case for one Mt Pleasant section, where a couple desired a two-bedroom home that takes in the views, while also providing pleasant, sheltered outdoor living spaces.

MC Architecture Studio’s Max Capocaccia says assessing buildability on the steep site was a key in the concept stage, as well as preserving the natural beauty of the bush-clad site.

“When we first visited the site, there was very dense existing foliage lining the perimeter, which was a very noticeable feature that we wanted to maintain to help nestle the new home into the existing environment.”

A plan was conceived that would bed the home into the site, maintain the existing natural growth, and lead visitors on a shrouded path towards the home, reserving the spectacular view until the very end of the journey.

Entry is gained from the top of the site into the first floor, whereas the garage sits under the master bedroom wing on the ground floor, adjacent to the second bedroom and study.

This plan allows easy exterior maintenance, while also nestling the home right into the site, and providing a recessed exterior living area on the first floor, where a wide, angled eave spans the length of the bedroom and living spaces to provide a sheltered entertainment space outdoors.

Max says designing to protect the home against the southerly winds dictated a lot of the material decisions.

“We wanted to create a cove that's protected from the southerly winds which hit the entry side of the home, so we clad the southern facing walls in metal tray cladding. It adds secrecy and the hardness of a shell, creating that protective screen.”

In contrast to the metal cladding, softer vertical shiplap cedar cladding lines the north-facing areas of occupancy, creating a softer and more welcoming feel to the balcony. For the same reason, the cedar treatment was chosen for the front entry and garage entry.

The boardwalk, that takes visitors on a shrouded, secretive path to the main entry, also features warm hued cedar and Max says this enticing journey is one of his favourite aspects of the project.

“The home is quite a secretive sort of form, and the boardwalk comes through and around the existing foliage and was designed to embody an estuary pier as seen down on the water. You break through the trees along the boardwalk, and come to the entrance door – then once you're inside, there’s a huge contrast from the private exterior that you've just passed through.”

The view is quite literally a jaw-dropping moment, with huge windows framing the northern estuary and Christchurch City.

Adding to the grandeur and impact of the first floor living space is the exquisitely crafted battened cedar ceiling, which provides acoustic dampening, and mitres up to a central operable skylight, which acts as a ventilation system for the home.

“It creates such a large atmosphere in an intimate living environment. When you're in there you feel that it's a vast but equally intimate space.”

The simple grey floor tiles expand right throughout the living area and kitchen, while a plastered fireplace adds a touch of texture.

From the central living space and adjacent open-plan kitchen, the master suite is a split-level up to the left, which was necessitated by the topography of the site, but also gives an added sense of separation.

In the kitchen, a solid timber ceiling lining increases the sense of space, while also leading the eye across and down the sculptural stairs.

Max says these small, but significant design moves give the home a perfect sense of proportion, while elevating the simple and understated materials.

“It’s not a large home, but it does a great job of balancing the incredible views with simple but strong material features on the interior, giving it an intimate and grounded feeling, while also feeling expansive and releasing you out to the views.”

Words: Jo Seton

Photography: Clinton Lloyd

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The wide eave spans the length of the first floor deck, offering shade and shelter.
The home is sited near the top of Mt Pleasant, overlooking the northern estuary and Christchurch City.
A view from above shows a boomerang shape that allows a sheltered outdoor space in the fold.
The existing greenery on the site was retained so that the home nestles easily into the landscape.
Above the garage, the elevation is clad in cedar, to create a softer and warmer welcoming face.
Looking back to the property's entry - the cedar boardwalk creates the start of a journey towards the view.
Approaching the entry, the boardwalk is lit up, casting sculptural shadows on the home.
A cedar clad dividing wall, separates the master bedroom balcony from the outdoor entertainment space.
The battened cedar ceiling soars towards a central operable skylight.
The perfectly mitred joins of the cedar battens showcase the incredible workmanship of the builders and the precision of the design.
Looking back from the living space to the open-plan kitchen.
The home captures stunning sea and city views.
The kitchen features rich timber laminated cabinetry and a routed ceiling surface that leads the eye across the room and down the stairwell.
Behind the kitchen, a scullery hides the clutter.
The tiled floors continue down the stair well, creating a visual continuity.
A dramatic view to the ceiling above the stairs.
The stairs were designed to have a geometric and sculptural quality.
Feature brass pendant lights light up the stairwell and add warmth to the white and grey interior palette.
The floor-to-ceiling tiles of the master en suite create a clean but dramatic feeling.
The master en suite bath and shower enjoy a dramatic view.