Architects: Matter Architects
Project: Tree Villa
Architects in Charge: Jonathan Smith, John Holley, Phil Howat
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Area 300.0 m2
Project Year 2017
Photography: Simon Devitt
In a cramped, steep site on one of the busiest residential streets in Ponsonby, Auckland, there was magic to be found in the form of a dilapidated 110-year old heritage villa. Over two years, the three-bedroom, one-bathroom villa was transformed into a beautiful and functional, cozy family home. Fundamental to its success is the sense of tranquillity and respite the villa’s spaces offer from the inner city lifestyle that the clients love.
A favourite place to relax, rewind, and re-invigorate is this spa-like bathroom. Carving out portions of the villa, adding masonry wall structures, and substantial retaining facilitated the addition of a new downstairs floor. Moving down the gently-lit stairwell of the main floor, the first room encountered downstairs is the bathroom. High windows maintain natural warmth, privacy, and light on entry, while further in the room becomes subterranean, generating a sense of privacy, cosiness, and sanctuary. Polished heated concrete floors provide additional warmth and a solid grounded feeling.
For the first time in New Zealand Statuario Florim oversized panels were used as wall lining, providing a serene quality to the bathroom’s perimeter walls. Concrete walls provide the solid backing to the panels and aid noise reduction. The considerable size of the panels create the feeling that the bathroom is carved from solid marble. These soft porcelain panels ensure that the space is filled with gentle diffuse light and feels intimate, warm, and luxurious. The hanging WC is hidden behind a mosaic marble feature wall. Alarti Marble tiles are used on the feature wall to provide a delicate contrast to other elements, and to draw attention inwards toward the free-standing stone bath. This unique egg-shaped bath provides a sculpted centerpiece to the room. On the flip side of the WC, a walk-in shower offers the reinvigorating experience of warm rainfall.
All joinery and cabinetry elements are framed in black including the mirrors. This provides a visual direction to these elements. The slipped break between mirrors highlights the shifting levels within the home and the external window. Lighting options, including recessed LEDs within the ceiling space add to the feeling of intimacy and calm.
While the room imbues a feeling of being transported from one world to another, the harmonious use of materials throughout the villa provides seamlessness and comfort to the senses. The minimalist approach to surfaces and joinery further reduces unnecessary stimulation, while maintaining a sense of luxury. Generous storage makes the space practical and self-contained.