Bossley Architects 5 Sonya Cotter Design Clifftops

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    Pete Bossley, Finn Scott, Sonya Cotter
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Directors
    Pete Bossley, Finn Scott, Sonya Cotter
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Sidney Leong, Don McKenzie, Jacob Bowden

A house for a parent, four adult children and an expanding number of grandchildren to call their family base. They desired a large yet comfortable house-generous but not too big, warm in winter, relaxed and able to accommodate a very significant collection of much-loved national and international artworks.

The family come and go, so there may be from one to six adults staying for significant periods. The clifftop eastern end of the house comprises living rooms with main bedroom above. The western end contains a three-bedroom wing with living areas above gymnasium, garage and office. Between the two wings is the fifth bedroom and an open two-storey link.

The strong superstructure of the home is constructed in creamy white off form insitu concrete, insulated in instances where exterior wall meets interior and emanates a sense of permanence. The elements of concrete wall are complemented externally by sheets of marble stone rainscreen cladding, cedar weatherboards, GRC fascia panels, and glass. Interior ceilings are lined in cedar sarking, wrapped over gentle rolling curves in some instances. Walnut timber floors to main living areas and interior door joinery adds warmth to the spaces, while soft carpet and textured wallpapers and fabrics soften the more intimate private bedroom spaces. The bathrooms and steamroom are lined and finished with natural stones and tiles, with aged brass strips defining the transitions in material. Detail is further considered right down to the lightest touch, with hand stitched leather wrapped door handles that give warmth to the handmade aged brass handmade hardware.

The layered tones and textures of these materials are reminiscent of the volcanic basalt lava rock forms of the cliff and foreshore that fringe the site, the Pohutukawa trees, and the whitewater created by the ocean crashing against the shoreline. Gathered around the building are a series of terraces that extend into the interior by way of fireplace hearths and ledges, exquisitely formed and laid by terrazzo specialists with a selected volcanic aggregate-that further speaks to the basalt rock formations.

Between the entry and dining/living spaces hangs a large double height hand drawn felt screen, commissioned by Dutch felter and artist Claudy Jongstra. This beautiful soft element softens the spaces both visually and acoustically and can be hand drawn across to provide separation to the dining and living spaces. Colours and tones in the feltwork created by Jongstra’s natural vegetable dyes further reference the volcanic and natural tones of the nearby Rangitoto and Takapuna coastlines.
The large garage and gym spaces demanded a hardworking structural floor and ceiling above, which we designed closely with the structural engineers and specialist concrete contractor as an insitu waffle slab. This allowed for a special lighting effect, with each softly curved waffle individually lit-allowing the warm walnut timber floored space below to transformed into a party space when required.

Careful consideration has been given to the significant collection of local and interior artworks. The brief from the client was that “he didn’t want to live in an art gallery” but rather “a home with a lot of art on the walls.”
The sculptural flowing forms of cream concrete, timber floors and ceilings, a bridge, a long slow stair, and other elements celebrate free flowing spaces and connections to the outside, reflecting the natural light that animates the interior spaces.