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Contemporary Renovation of a Time-worn House

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Located on a waterfront site in New Zealand, this house has been given a serious face lift and a new life by Dorrington Architects and associates. We are talking about a renovation and addition project, as the owners wanted to keep the time-worn but sturdy existing structure. The major inconvenient of the existing house was that, despite of its waterfront location, it was not taking advantage of the views that the site had to offer. The project kept the existing structure but placed it towards the back, while two new modules have been added at the front. These modules are very distinct in terms of shape and materials, and they also completely differ from the brick structure of the existing ones.The bigger volume is an asymmetrical zinc-clad block, while the smaller one that grows out of it is screened by a vertical cedar structure. Both these two block are turned towards the view through big glazed walls and doors. The bigger volume contains the living area, while the smaller one encloses the master bedroom with its en-suite bathroom. Vertically there are two levels, the lower one being more difficult to guess depending on the point of view. Semi-levels and raised platforms give the dynamic inside the house, creating different views.

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Both new blocks have a double skin, one in zinc and one in cedar wood. The zinc-clad block has an asymmetrical shape made of inclined lines, while the cedar-clad one is a simple box structure. What the two blocks have in common though are the glazed front facades, which offer a beautiful opening towards the ocean.


The asymmetrical block contains the day activities area, with open kitchen and dining room and a generous living room. The living room occupies only half of the floor space, the rest being left free for easy circulation towards the outdoors front deck.


The kitchen and dining area are raised a few steps on a platform that gives a new perspective on the ocean. The space has no walls, but the partitions are clearly made by the level differences.


As a design accent, three lamps by Tom Dixon hang above the wooden dining table.


The stairs and the wooden screen create a nice geometrical game of lines in the staircase and entrance area.


Also the front entrance glazed wall creates a Mondrian painting effect, dissimulating the door and bringing in colorful rays of light.


The media room is placed downstairs at the lower level. One wall is lined with wooden shelves that contain the books and dvd collection of the family. The white screen that serves as TV is dissimulated behind a wallpaper-looking cover.


The existing side of the house has been renovating in full respect of the original structure. The art-deco bathroom has been restored, and the brick structure of the walls has been bared and painted white.




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