TEN OUT OF TEN

Over the past six years Creating Communities (CCL) has earned an enviable reputation for developing and building quality homes in Northern Glen Innes. It’s no exaggeration to say that this forward-thinking, community-minded developer has singlehandedly changed the face of the suburb – a fact that was recently endorsed by the Property Council New Zealand, Property Industry Awards, who awarded CCL an Excellence Award for their redevelopment of the area.

As their redevelopment of the area draws to a close, CCL wanted to make one final architectural statement, with the construction of their final ten homes. These houses are set to break the mould and to raise the bar yet again. Their development brings an even greater level of design and quality in a suburb that has totally reinvented itself; homes that have been specifically tailored for their individual sites and also for the needs and wellbeing of the families who will live in them.

Split equally over two sites that sit just a stone’s throw apart, the form of all the houses is essentially all the same, with one exception. The five homes at 43-45 Castledine have internal access garaging, whereas 37-39 Castledine has taken a more communal approach to its layout, with centralised parking at the top of the site, just off the street, connected to each of the five houses by a series of walkways and boardwalks that meander through a landscaped native bush setting. This site also offers a shared recreation space for all the residents to enjoy – that’s in addition to the generous private decks and courtyards each of the homes come with.

Architectural Pedigree

What all ten homes share is a common architectural language; the same form and materiality, and a continuity of design throughout – right down to the last detail – with each one having been fully imagined and thoughtfully specified by Cecile Bonnifait and William Giesen, Principals at Wellington-based Atelierworkshop Architects.

“Creating Communities came to us because they wanted something new and something innovative.”

That was certainly one of the intentions, but the overriding factor in engaging this multi-awarding-winning architectural firm was the reputation they have gained for designing quality homes that ooze that quintessential style of modern Kiwi architecture.

The five homes at 43-45 Castledine have internal access garaging, whereas 37-39 Castledine has taken a more communal approach to its layout, with centralised parking at the top of the site, just off the street, connected to each of the five houses by a series of walkways and boardwalks that meander through a landscaped native bush setting. This site also offers a shared recreation space for all the residents to enjoy – that’s in addition to the generous private decks and courtyards each of the homes come with.

Generosity of Space

Natural light and ventilation – lots of it – and a feeling of generosity of space were two of the key drivers that shaped the design of these houses. To make this happen, the architects introduced double-height volumes above the main living space in all the homes, and arranged the living, dining and kitchen areas around a generous deck that can be seamlessly opened up, effectively turning the whole of the ground floor into a large outdoor room.

“When we describe the homes we design, we like to talk about them in cubic metres rather than square metres; the spatial quality rather than simply the area of the floor plan,” says Giesen. “Square metres only tell you half the story. When you look at the homes we’ve designed for Creating Communities, they all incorporate huge, two-storey spaces, with full-height glass and ventilating louvres. And they’re all oriented to the north, to capture as much sun as possible, deep into the centre of the house. 

Double-height volumes above the main living space in all the homes

Another key part of the design was the option of including built-in storage and furniture in each house, says Giesen. “Everywhere we could, we have enabled the introduction of built-in storage, so as soon as you walk in through the front door there can be storage all along the hallway, and as you make your way along the corridor towards the kitchen, there’s a separate toilet and laundry. One of the things that we always try to reduce in our floor plans is the amount of wasted circulation, and there is very little ‘wasted’ space in these homes.”

Natural Light and Ventilation

All ten homes are designed around an east-west, north-south axis, with long view shafts (corridors) that not only help to link the rooms, but also physically and visually connect the interiors with the outdoors. This helps to create a feeling of generosity of space and light.

Continuing with their mantra of not ‘wasting’ space, very little floor area has been given up to the upstairs landing, which has allowed the architects to maximise floor area for the three bedrooms and two bathrooms – one of which is an ensuite. A series of built-in wardrobes give the whole of the upstairs a clean, uncluttered look.

The two largest bedrooms overlook the dining and lounge spaces below and have been fitted with internal glass louvres that not only bring in extra natural light, but also encourage natural ventilation. “We believe in natural heating and ventilation,” says Giesen. “In the evening, the louvres allow the heat to circulate through the whole house, which means you only need a single heat pump to heat the whole house. And because all the homes have lots of north-facing glazing, energy bills should be low; not needing to use the heating for more than two to three months of the year.”

Same, but Different

Each home has its own colour palette inside and out, making them all unique, explains Giesen. The houses are all the same in their materiality, but the colour of the cladding and the interiors is different for every home.

You also won’t find a white-on-white look in any of these homes, as the architects have opted to use natural materials wherever possible, with subtle punches of colour brought through – in the painted doors, for example.

Apart from looking good, from a sustainability point of view, it’s less processed than plastered and painted GIB board – making it natural, sustainable and recyclable. There’s warmth to natural timber – especially in these days where everything has become very sterile with plain white walls and ceilings. There’s also a level of craft that it brings – you see the joins, so care needs to be taken installing it.”

“Natural materials age well and are timeless,” says Giesen. “All the internal timber is blonde in colour, giving a light ‘Scandinavian’ feel to the interiors. "

The differences [to group homebuilder houses] are subtle, says Giesen, but people who appreciate and understand design will welcome the distinction. “From our point of view there should be no limit where quality architecture is found. And from my perception of Glenn Innes – as a vibrant area, close to the city and the coast – why shouldn’t it have its share of architecturally designed homes.”

But don’t just take Giesen’s word on these new homes, come and take a look at these homes for yourself. These are not spaces that you can simply pass judgement on by looking at a few pictures and renders online. They need to be experienced and appreciated first hand for their aesthetic and spatial design and finite level of finishing.

For further information, or to arrange a viewing, please contact Marcel Van Drongelen at Marcel@creatingcommunities.co.nz, or call 020 404 81173

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