Weir Residence: concrete in contrast - PeterFell | ArchiPro

Weir Residence: concrete in contrast

A dramatic new precast concrete home with high visual contrast provides a solid safe haven for owner and designer Robert Weir, writes Joanna Seton.

The flat, Halswell site of the Weir Residence is as far as you can get from the previous, steep coastal site at Redcliffs, which Weir Architecture managing director Robert Weir chose to leave after the devastating Christchurch earthquakes.

It makes perfect sense then that the “Rockhill” home (inscribed on the precast concrete wall at the Weir home’s entrance) is a house of contrasts. The home not only contrasts his previous one, but the design itself juxtaposes dark against light, and smooth against raw in its concrete materiality.

The section looks out to the Southern Alps, down over the Canterbury Plains and to Christchurch. For the home’s aesthetic, Robert chose the textural tactility of exposed horizontal concrete board against the softness of the rough sawn texture imprinted on it.

“Once you put a pattern in it, it becomes quite a soft product as opposed to striking, hard, and almost brutalist.”

The layout was designed to make the most of the views, while maintaining as much privacy as possible, and has a large central gallery space that showcases the owner’s art collection.

The area gets hit by cold winds, so concrete patio areas were created in nooks around the outside of the house so that depending on which way the wind is blowing, the occupants can still enjoy the outdoors.

Yet in spite of the multiple views and outdoor spaces, the house is very private. A large garage and driveway area create a narrow entrance to the house that belies the expansive views beyond the front door.

The driveway area is every bit as dramatic as the home’s monochromatic interior. PeterFell’s oxide was used to add a charcoal background to the exposed aggregate driveway and patio areas, enhancing the dramatic, monochrome impact of the home.

“We used a lot of light concrete on certain aspects of the house and we’ve used charcoal concrete on other parts of the house, so it defines the contrast between those two colours,” says Robert.

PeterFell also provided a sealant for the precast panels, which stops them from staining and from water passing through.

Robert says a satin finish was chosen to preserve the rustic look of the panels, while also enhancing their longevity.

In spite of the significant amount of concrete used in the design, the home isn’t cold or uninviting, rather, the coloured concrete contrasts create a tension between the forms that gives the home added drama.

“The most striking part of the project is the look and the feel of the place. It’s a 360m2 home, but it doesn’t feel like a large house, it’s quite homely,” says Robert.

Robert says in spite of the challenges of building post-earthquake, and the contrast in setting from Redcliffs to Halswell, the dramatic concrete home is now the perfect, robust safe haven from the elements.

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