Pacific Environments NZ Ltd Vermont Villa
Creative DirectorClive Chapman
Design DirectorClive Chapman
Team MemberRachel Xu
ContributorBarry Tobin Photographer
The house is situated on a rear site on a street in Ponsonby. Originally the street was made up of small villas fronting the pavement, with rear sections being used for commercial purposes. The neighbouring site used to be an auto repair shop; and an adjacent site was occupied by an engineering company.
The historic nature of these rear sites meant the buildings would have commonly been tin sheds. The generic architectural form of the building with a pitched roof, vertical cladding, concrete base, and rusted steel details therefore fit with this aesthetic. The addition of multiple solar panels to the roof add a further industrial element to this aspect.
The client was particular in their wish to leave materials exposed, and as natural as possible. The steel structural frame constructed within the external walls appears as a standalone element, with fixings and form accentuated by a black paint finish. The lower floors in-situ poured concrete walls feature a board-impressed relief on both interior and exterior wall faces. The concrete is sealed but otherwise left with a rough finish. Polished concrete of the lower floors, with water based clear finish, contrast with the tactile nature of the walls. A 3.5m high stud ceiling with bespoke routered plywood panels, to aid acoustics, is a striking feature with a practical purpose.
The client wanted connection to the original house so the matai flooring was carefully lifted and recycled for the feature wall of kitchen cabinets within the new space.
The upper floor is timber framed with timber trusses used above the sleeping areas, to create more intimate spaces, and the sarked ceiling in the upstairs living area being supported by an exposed steel portal frame. The floors are American White Oak, which matches through to the solid timber stair treads.
The concrete construction of the lower floor creates the thermal mass that, coupled with its north-western orientation, gives the performance the client was looking for. The exterior walls also double as an outdoor cinema screen for the clients to host movie nights. The exterior cladding of the upper floor continues in the industrial theme with random depth and width vertical Canadian Cedar.
The building is designed to be naturally ventilated with the whole of the lower floor able to be opened to the outside. A sliding screen allows specific shade where needed and is designed to be locked in position so that the inner glass panel can be left open securely. This biophilic connection to the outdoors continues through to the upper floor living area, with a dramatic timber ‘cage’ on the northern facade. The full-height windows can be left open all day, as the horizontal battens of the cage ensure security. Very high levels of insulation have been achieved to all timber framed walls.
The natural ventilation, thermal mass, ultra-low emission fireplace, and high levels of insulation have meant that though the house has heat pumps these have been rarely used by the clients since they have moved in.