Rural Urban

This Matakana house was one of the six finalists for Home of the Year 2017. Just outside Matakana village, it lies in a flat paddock with a rural backdrop of hills and farmland. But there are no references to simple barns here – this place has an urban feel which makes use of high-end materials to create a clever designer home. The house is big on functional spaces for its owners; they have young children and like having people over. Architect Dominic Glamuzina started a new practice a couple of years ago, after seven years of partnership with Aaron Paterson (and a further seven years on his own before that). Glamuzina Architects is based on Cross Street, just off K’Rd – a very urban environment which he loves. Dom lectures at the Auckland University School of Architecture and mentors thesis students – he enjoys the intellectual rigour of the educational environment.

Dom won the opportunity to design the house over another firm, and Leigh builder Rod Cooper won a tender of his own to put it together. Cooper Construction has been responsible for realising some of the most iconic designs around the Matakana Coast, including the Matakana Cinemas and Koru House. Dom says of Rod Cooper: “He’s a builder you can talk aesthetics with – and if there’s a design problem he’ll usually have resolved it by the time you get around to discussing it with him.”

The house is L-shaped, built around a sleek, sunken courtyard with an adjacent pool. Because the house is in the middle of a paddock and not presenting a single exterior face to an urban street, every elevation has been considered. The roof echoes the hills nearby with pointed bat-ear skylights breaking its long, low line.

A sculptural, angled chimney-piece of bagged brick creates textural interest which is picked up elsewhere, both outside and in. Dom says, “The house was initially more brutal – there was a lot of textural brickwork… but as we moved through the design process, it was replaced with wood. The exterior framework that floats over the cladding outside is about creating that texture now.”

The cedar battens which line the facade are a pure design feature; they accentuate the placement of windows and ready the eye for the boxy, Mondrian-esque shelving units inside, that run from floor to ceiling. These initially feel mid-century modern, but the steel-framed French doors combined with dark oak floorboards give the place more of a European country feel.

Inside, the skylights create pools of light along a corridor which connects the two wings of the house. This long, white walk creates a natural gallery and the inner angles of the skylights make for fascinating pyramidal planes. More light pours in from the clerestory windows in the open living area at the north end of the house.

A playful media room, accessed from the main living space, is dubbed ‘the snug’. The curved, chute-style entrance way takes a few steps down into what is effectively a below-ground bunker. There’s more box shelving and ample built-in banquette seating above the carpeted floor. This cosy room fits like a comforting glove, in stark contrast to the wide-open, light-saturated spaces of the main living area.

“Yeah, it was a fun build all right,” says builder Rod Cooper. “Lots of quirky detail – but my team made sure it all went pretty smoothly. There are always a few things that you look at on an architect-designed house like this and wonder if there could be an easy way out, but you have to keep the faith and find a way – and we did.”