Black Beauty aka Villametre!

From the street, the angled facade gives an indication that what is behind the wall is something out of the ordinary. This 2016 Home of the Year finalist is an intriguing homage to the surrounding villas.

The 300 sqm house is designed on the principles of ‘Parametricism’ – a new style of building that requires computer design and algorithms to create the form. Zaha Hadid is probably the best-known proponent of the style and cost ¢750,000 to build (approx. $NZ1.3 mil – or $4500 per sqm).

Zaha Hadid: The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center Baku, AzerbaijanZaha Hadid:

“The aim of parametric design is to build up more spatial complexity while maintaining legibility, i.e. to intensify relations between spaces (or elements of a composition) and to adapt to contexts in ways that establish legible connections. This allows architecture to translate the complexity of contemporary life processes in the global post-industrialised networked era.” Wikipedia

The Villametre! was designed by WHAT_architecture of London – a mere 18,200km distance away from the build, so construction supervision meant exhaustive documentation bolstered by regular, and most likely frequent, communications. As the architects say on their website: “low-tech remote control technologies of Skype and SketchUp [was used]. As such there was a lot of on-screen finger-pointing during site meetings. The Villametre! is thus a contemporary villa designed and built exactly to the millimetre!”

The stunning bathrooms, each tiled in a unique mosaic colour, contributed to the house winning a Resene Colour Award – not bad for an otherwise black and white and timber house!

The house is located on the border of Herne Bay and Ponsonby – a low rise urban environment where houses are tightly squeezed together, without touching, to comprise a ‘dense suburbia’ more similar to Tokyo than London and this helps allow each house to take on its own identity.

The architects talk of the two faces of the building – the front ‘public face’ and the rear ‘private space’. As can be seen, the front facade is relatively imposing but its angled shapes create a softer visage than a monolithic black wall would provide.

The rear, on the other hand, is open and light-filled, with a generous open plan living space the embraces the garden.

“In doing so the house mediates between an outgoing public image and the relative anonymity of staying-in. The morphology of the Villameter! is then auto-generated by connecting front to back. The living spaces are simply the result of joining these two extremities.”

Elements of the historic Villa common to the local Conservation Area are evident to appease heritage concerns: a gabled roof form weatherboard clad villa. Stained black to recede. The Modernist face to the garden is informed by the great kiwi backyard where outdoor living is fundamental to the NZ psyche. This rectangular façade is fully glazed and opens the kitchen, dining and lounge to the exterior. The Villameter! thus contains all the tenets of a traditional villa yet reasserted with a modern twist:

  • Central hall plan organisation yet with a split level section to accommodate a garage thus improving the relationship between house and car to thwart the auto-house scenario found elsewhere in this suburb: front garden as car park
  • Glazed front door yields a vista to the back garden
  • Bay window that leans forward to the street
  • Gabled roof form whose asymmetry is a reflection of the varying plot widths of the adjoining houses (6m to the North, 12m to the South);
  • Innovative weatherboard cladding continues over the roof to form NZ’s first entirely weatherboard house!
  • Gutters sunken in the ground
  • Grass lawn is detailed to have an interior shag pile carpet quality.

For more visit here – What_architecture