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Valley

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In the Cashmere Hills in Christchurch sits a home that is as transparent as it is private; an urban bunker-like haven designed to survive for many hundreds of years. 

Butted up against a rugged basalt cliff face, the house offers an unusual perspective, taking into account the dominating landscape of rock and native bush—and, on a good day, views out over Christchurch to the Southern Alps beyond.

Here, birdsong is one of the only sounds that breaks the silence around the concrete, brutalist form of a home that at once offers permanence and a sense of fragility in its ultimate transparency. 

The brief was very open, due in part to the fact that designer Nick Mann of AO Architecture designed the house for his parents. “They are people who enjoy spending a lot of time at home. They’re avid readers and they wanted a home that would be enduring and permanent; something to pass down the generations that would stand for a few hundred years.”

From the eastern facade, the home appears open and transparent—minimalist in intention—despite its privacy, snug within the bush surrounds and prominent rock face that defines the site.

“We didn’t want to complicate the exterior. I love the idea of really paring housing back, so to that end we wanted to ensure we kept only to concrete and glass,” explains Nick.

That desire led to the development of a facade punctured by floor-to-ceiling glazing across both levels of the two-storeyed home with striking effect, creating a solid form with glazing carved out of it across every aspect—from the garaging to the glass front door, which offers sightlines through the structure to the defining basalt cliff face behind.

“Despite the proximity of the neighbours, the house is almost completely hidden from view due to the thick native bush and placement on the site. Inside, from many of the viewpoints you can’t see anyone at all. For an urban site, it feels incredibly private.”

The board-formed cast concrete creates a rough, raw aesthetic that fits well with the rugged cliff face behind. “When the sun casts light on it, the facade is ever-changing due to the very textured finish, as it is at night when illuminated or in shadow.”

Entry to the home is by way of a full height glass door that opens into an entrance area. To the right, a gallery-style hallway defined by a concrete floor and full height bookshelves leads to the second and third bedrooms. 

A U-stair defined by its minimalist timber treads also ascends from the entrance, behind which double-height glazing takes in a confronting view of the detailed rock face immediately behind. Here, a waterfall was designed to run gracefully over the jutted rock, illuminated at night by subtle lighting. 

Arriving on the upper level, the palette is warm and natural with the pared-back notion as evident here as on the exterior. “This is the main hub of the home. When you reach the top of the stairs, you are immediately faced with a view straight out onto leafy foliage, but when you turn around to the face the main window you get a view down the valley over Christchurch and across to the mountains,” Nick says.

The polished concrete floor was designed to look slightly aged with irregular patterns and a slight texture, while the ceiling of Siberian larch dominates overhead. In between, the cabinetry is a dark grey with a matte finish, while a black Dekton benchtop has a velveteen appearance, leathery almost. “Nothing here is too perfect; each element offering a slightly different textural element, which creates the warmth we wanted to achieve, along with a quiet sense of calm and peacefulness.”

Here, a suspended gas fire hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the main window offering a further sense of warmth within a space closely connected to the natural elements of the site.

In the ensuite bathroom, the timber element is taken further, with large-format timber-look porcelain tiles, punctuated only by black, glass and the white of the bath. 

As a whole, this home transcends its era—designed to outlast many lifetimes yet also create a resoundingly contemporary take on urban living. 
 

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The Brutalist concrete form is punctured by full height glazing on both levels of this two-storyed home.
An exposed concrete wall creates a strong synergy between interior and exterior.
Here, double height glazing offers a confronting view of the rugged cliff face that defines the site.
The extensive glazing extends to the garaging and front door to the right of the garage, offering a transparency to the solid concrete form.
Cobbles and grass define the landscaping; simple and neutral while adding to the overall textural elements of the form.
A suspended fire hangs in the centre of the main living room window, from which views down the valley, over Christchurch and to the Southern Alps beyond are captured.
The concrete floor and Siberian Larch ceiling create a warm, calm aesthetic in the interiors.
Matte cabinetry and a black benchtop with a unique velvet-like appearance maintain the pared back material palette.
Full height glazing defines every room in this house, with simple, minimalistic interior spaces.
Oversized timber-look tiles create a peaceful, calming space in the ensuite bathroom, consistent with the palette in the rest of the home.
The rugged, rough finish of the concrete pays homage to the basalt cliff which rises behind the house.
The Dekton benchtop has a unique velvet-like appearance, paired with elegant curved tapware.
Lighting highlights the rough texture of the concrete.
Full-height bookshelves were incorporated to house the owners' book collection. 
The glass entry door allows for seamless sightlines throughout the house to the cliff face behind.
Natural textures and finishes offer a unique juxtaposition with the basalt cliff face. 

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Valley

In the Cashmere Hills in Christchurch sits a home that is as transparent as it is private; an urban bunker-like haven designed to survive for many hundreds of years. 

Butted up against a rugged basalt cliff face, the house offers an unusual perspective, taking into account the dominating landscape of rock and native bush—and, on a good day, views out over Christchurch to the Southern Alps beyond.

Here, birdsong is one of the only sounds that breaks the silence around the concrete, brutalist form of a home that at once offers permanence and a sense of fragility in its ultimate transparency. 

The brief was very open, due in part to the fact that designer Nick Mann of AO Architecture designed the house for his parents. “They are people who enjoy spending a lot of time at home. They’re avid readers and they wanted a home that would be enduring and permanent; something to pass down the generations that would stand for a few hundred years.”

From the eastern facade, the home appears open and transparent—minimalist in intention—despite its privacy, snug within the bush surrounds and prominent rock face that defines the site.

“We didn’t want to complicate the exterior. I love the idea of really paring housing back, so to that end we wanted to ensure we kept only to concrete and glass,” explains Nick.

That desire led to the development of a facade punctured by floor-to-ceiling glazing across both levels of the two-storeyed home with striking effect, creating a solid form with glazing carved out of it across every aspect—from the garaging to the glass front door, which offers sightlines through the structure to the defining basalt cliff face behind.

“Despite the proximity of the neighbours, the house is almost completely hidden from view due to the thick native bush and placement on the site. Inside, from many of the viewpoints you can’t see anyone at all. For an urban site, it feels incredibly private.”

The board-formed cast concrete creates a rough, raw aesthetic that fits well with the rugged cliff face behind. “When the sun casts light on it, the facade is ever-changing due to the very textured finish, as it is at night when illuminated or in shadow.”

Entry to the home is by way of a full height glass door that opens into an entrance area. To the right, a gallery-style hallway defined by a concrete floor and full height bookshelves leads to the second and third bedrooms. 

A U-stair defined by its minimalist timber treads also ascends from the entrance, behind which double-height glazing takes in a confronting view of the detailed rock face immediately behind. Here, a waterfall was designed to run gracefully over the jutted rock, illuminated at night by subtle lighting. 

Arriving on the upper level, the palette is warm and natural with the pared-back notion as evident here as on the exterior. “This is the main hub of the home. When you reach the top of the stairs, you are immediately faced with a view straight out onto leafy foliage, but when you turn around to the face the main window you get a view down the valley over Christchurch and across to the mountains,” Nick says.

The polished concrete floor was designed to look slightly aged with irregular patterns and a slight texture, while the ceiling of Siberian larch dominates overhead. In between, the cabinetry is a dark grey with a matte finish, while a black Dekton benchtop has a velveteen appearance, leathery almost. “Nothing here is too perfect; each element offering a slightly different textural element, which creates the warmth we wanted to achieve, along with a quiet sense of calm and peacefulness.”

Here, a suspended gas fire hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the main window offering a further sense of warmth within a space closely connected to the natural elements of the site.

In the ensuite bathroom, the timber element is taken further, with large-format timber-look porcelain tiles, punctuated only by black, glass and the white of the bath. 

As a whole, this home transcends its era—designed to outlast many lifetimes yet also create a resoundingly contemporary take on urban living. 
 

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
The Brutalist concrete form is punctured by full height glazing on both levels of this two-storyed home.
An exposed concrete wall creates a strong synergy between interior and exterior.
Here, double height glazing offers a confronting view of the rugged cliff face that defines the site.
The extensive glazing extends to the garaging and front door to the right of the garage, offering a transparency to the solid concrete form.
Cobbles and grass define the landscaping; simple and neutral while adding to the overall textural elements of the form.
A suspended fire hangs in the centre of the main living room window, from which views down the valley, over Christchurch and to the Southern Alps beyond are captured.
The concrete floor and Siberian Larch ceiling create a warm, calm aesthetic in the interiors.
Matte cabinetry and a black benchtop with a unique velvet-like appearance maintain the pared back material palette.
Full height glazing defines every room in this house, with simple, minimalistic interior spaces.
Oversized timber-look tiles create a peaceful, calming space in the ensuite bathroom, consistent with the palette in the rest of the home.
The rugged, rough finish of the concrete pays homage to the basalt cliff which rises behind the house.
The Dekton benchtop has a unique velvet-like appearance, paired with elegant curved tapware.
Lighting highlights the rough texture of the concrete.
Full-height bookshelves were incorporated to house the owners' book collection. 
The glass entry door allows for seamless sightlines throughout the house to the cliff face behind.
Natural textures and finishes offer a unique juxtaposition with the basalt cliff face. 

Products in this project

Professionals used on this project

Also from ao architecture

Done tagging
All
Projects
Products
Professionals
Articles

Valley

In the Cashmere Hills in Christchurch sits a home that is as transparent as it is private; an urban bunker-like haven designed to survive for many hundreds of years. 

Butted up against a rugged basalt cliff face, the house offers an unusual perspective, taking into account the dominating landscape of rock and native bush—and, on a good day, views out over Christchurch to the Southern Alps beyond.

Here, birdsong is one of the only sounds that breaks the silence around the concrete, brutalist form of a home that at once offers permanence and a sense of fragility in its ultimate transparency. 

The brief was very open, due in part to the fact that designer Nick Mann of AO Architecture designed the house for his parents. “They are people who enjoy spending a lot of time at home. They’re avid readers and they wanted a home that would be enduring and permanent; something to pass down the generations that would stand for a few hundred years.”

From the eastern facade, the home appears open and transparent—minimalist in intention—despite its privacy, snug within the bush surrounds and prominent rock face that defines the site.

“We didn’t want to complicate the exterior. I love the idea of really paring housing back, so to that end we wanted to ensure we kept only to concrete and glass,” explains Nick.

That desire led to the development of a facade punctured by floor-to-ceiling glazing across both levels of the two-storeyed home with striking effect, creating a solid form with glazing carved out of it across every aspect—from the garaging to the glass front door, which offers sightlines through the structure to the defining basalt cliff face behind.

“Despite the proximity of the neighbours, the house is almost completely hidden from view due to the thick native bush and placement on the site. Inside, from many of the viewpoints you can’t see anyone at all. For an urban site, it feels incredibly private.”

The board-formed cast concrete creates a rough, raw aesthetic that fits well with the rugged cliff face behind. “When the sun casts light on it, the facade is ever-changing due to the very textured finish, as it is at night when illuminated or in shadow.”

Entry to the home is by way of a full height glass door that opens into an entrance area. To the right, a gallery-style hallway defined by a concrete floor and full height bookshelves leads to the second and third bedrooms. 

A U-stair defined by its minimalist timber treads also ascends from the entrance, behind which double-height glazing takes in a confronting view of the detailed rock face immediately behind. Here, a waterfall was designed to run gracefully over the jutted rock, illuminated at night by subtle lighting. 

Arriving on the upper level, the palette is warm and natural with the pared-back notion as evident here as on the exterior. “This is the main hub of the home. When you reach the top of the stairs, you are immediately faced with a view straight out onto leafy foliage, but when you turn around to the face the main window you get a view down the valley over Christchurch and across to the mountains,” Nick says.

The polished concrete floor was designed to look slightly aged with irregular patterns and a slight texture, while the ceiling of Siberian larch dominates overhead. In between, the cabinetry is a dark grey with a matte finish, while a black Dekton benchtop has a velveteen appearance, leathery almost. “Nothing here is too perfect; each element offering a slightly different textural element, which creates the warmth we wanted to achieve, along with a quiet sense of calm and peacefulness.”

Here, a suspended gas fire hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the main window offering a further sense of warmth within a space closely connected to the natural elements of the site.

In the ensuite bathroom, the timber element is taken further, with large-format timber-look porcelain tiles, punctuated only by black, glass and the white of the bath. 

As a whole, this home transcends its era—designed to outlast many lifetimes yet also create a resoundingly contemporary take on urban living. 
 

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
The Brutalist concrete form is punctured by full height glazing on both levels of this two-storyed home.
An exposed concrete wall creates a strong synergy between interior and exterior.
Here, double height glazing offers a confronting view of the rugged cliff face that defines the site.
The extensive glazing extends to the garaging and front door to the right of the garage, offering a transparency to the solid concrete form.
Cobbles and grass define the landscaping; simple and neutral while adding to the overall textural elements of the form.
A suspended fire hangs in the centre of the main living room window, from which views down the valley, over Christchurch and to the Southern Alps beyond are captured.
The concrete floor and Siberian Larch ceiling create a warm, calm aesthetic in the interiors.
Matte cabinetry and a black benchtop with a unique velvet-like appearance maintain the pared back material palette.
Full height glazing defines every room in this house, with simple, minimalistic interior spaces.
Oversized timber-look tiles create a peaceful, calming space in the ensuite bathroom, consistent with the palette in the rest of the home.
The rugged, rough finish of the concrete pays homage to the basalt cliff which rises behind the house.
The Dekton benchtop has a unique velvet-like appearance, paired with elegant curved tapware.
Lighting highlights the rough texture of the concrete.
Full-height bookshelves were incorporated to house the owners' book collection. 
The glass entry door allows for seamless sightlines throughout the house to the cliff face behind.
Natural textures and finishes offer a unique juxtaposition with the basalt cliff face. 
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