Borrmeister Architects Pivot House

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Wulf Borrmeister
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Wulf Borrmeister
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Member
    Jaimee Leach
  • Client
    Greg and Robyn King

After retiring from a large Marlborough vineyard home, our clients decided to scale down as they transitioned to urban living on a small inner-city section. The clients brief called for a comfortable, ‘easy to live in’, timeless design that would capture the sun and maintain a solid connection, not only to outdoor spaces and greenery but also to fit in with its surrounding neighbours and the broader Blenheim neighbourhood context.
The design consists of a near flat-roofed contemporary and carefully considered ‘broken up’ dwelling, which was created featuring a simple palette of natural and low-maintenance materials and finishes (cedar, concrete block, and fibre cement boards), as well as ample outdoor living spaces. To create a relaxed mood, outdoor living was paramount despite the tight inner-city site. It was also crucial
that the design seamlessly interconnects with its surroundings, with the kitchen as the ‘heart’ of the home and the pivot point for three courtyards. On the east side of the site is the ‘morning terrace,’ flanked by the
kitchen, study, entrance and a well-stocked veggie garden. To the north is the central courtyard, accessed through the kitchen, day room, lounge and dining. The ‘afternoon deck’ is located on the western side of the home and can be reached via the dining, lounge and main bedroom. These three courtyards offer protected outdoor living areas all year-round, visual interest, architectural surprises, view shafts, and available connections throughout the thoughtfully landscaped garden surroundings. A double garage, laundry, and several storage areas are also located on the ground floor. The upper-level
features two guest bedrooms, a play area for the grandchildren, and the family bathroom. This level does not dominate the lower or neighbouring houses due to its ‘floating pavilion’ appearance, with its light colour and cedar sunscreens within a skeletal steel structure. Cedar screens and pergolas were introduced on all sides of the house, providing additional shade and
creating a visual continuity between the indoor and outdoor living areas.
Ultimately, the overall design establishes a relaxed atmosphere and an easy place to live in all year round where the homeowners feel as though they are always on holiday.

The thought-out economic footprint avoids unnecessary circulation areas and other wasted space, despite its
‘broken-up nature. The footprint includes multiple courtyards on three sides to support natural cross-ventilation, solar gain, and protection from the prevailing winds. It also consists of a void from the kitchen on the ground floor to the first level, which encourages natural stack-type ventilation. The footprint further encompasses solar/photovoltaic panels; rainwater retention tanks for garden irrigation; high levels of insulation; thermally broken window and door joinery with high-performance glass; cedar pergolas; cedar
fixed and sliding screens; high-level windows; low maintenance materials; calculated roof overhangs designed to follow the daily sun path; and space for a well-stocked veggie garden that incorporates numerous fruit trees.
Overall, the design outcome successfully answered the clients wish for an environmentally friendly home.