Clifftop House is a modern family home designed by Xsite Architects in Auckland, New Zealand.
Description by architect: The design parameters were to create a three bedroom house to cater for a significant collection of NZ Modern Art and provide a lift, as the retired couple plan to live here for a good many years. With the north facing site, the house is arranged around living spaces that in turn create protected east and west courtyards and a north deck that connects to the front lawn. The main living space stretches across the site, allowing every opportunity to be open to the outdoors, although still protected from seasonal wind patterns.
The form of the Clifftop House is defined by the three main materials; copper, bagged brick and horizontal weather boards. These materials combine to create a collection of two boxes and a pavilion roof that “hovers” over three (two storey high) brick wall elements. The copper box relates to the garage and guest wing, while the pavilion connects with the primary living spaces.
The bagged brick walls are also laid in a random offset, creating further texture to these large walls whose primary purpose is to furnish the art collection.
This random patterning also occurs in the wood flooring, exterior horizontal weather board cladding and the exterior vertical copper panels. The random copper paneling enables the most economic use of the pre patinated coil. Varying the copper width was also a method to navigate the window and door placement.
The jetty is another element that assists in organizing the Clifftop House. From the entry lobby the flooring is orientated to set out the starting point of the jetty that extends out over the cliff and into Hobson Bay (16m long).The jetty is a combination of heavy hardwood planks , stainless rigging and exposed painted steel post and beam structure.
Passive solar design principles such as concrete brick mass walls, a 260mm air blanket under the ground floor slab, extensive roof protection, external solar blinds, automatic purging windows and double glazing are all featured in this house, as well as a simple venting louver widow in every living space.
The upper floor bedroom and living space is divided into Guest and Main wing. These areas are separated by two large pivot doors. The spaces are organized in served and servant spaces. Hence the main living room roof is 3.3m where the bedroom ceilings step down to 2.7m.
Other construction innovation applied to this building are;
The floating Cupolex concrete floor slab structure. This allows an air space between the ground and the slab, for thermal insulation and running services. Beams with “sky hooks”. Two large beams are picked up by a beam and dropper post at a higher level, giving the appearance of weightlessness and a continuity of exposed channels adjacent to the Aluminium joinery. Co-coordinated steel work that acts as a sill flashing and an extensive effort to integrated the Aluminium double glazed sliding doors, gives the appearance of large curtain walled portions of the building. These areas of glass are balanced by equally large rugged walls of bagged block that create large 6m high hanging spaces. Latest technology exterior solar blinds with automated retract sensors have been commissioned.
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