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High-impact architecture

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To maximise a picturesque view, the living area of this house was suspended like a bridge between two box-like brick volumes

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Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say – and this applies to architecture as much as any other endeavour.

The designer and co-owner of this house, Guy Shallard of Lat Forty Five, says necessity was precisely the reason he chose to elevate the living area and suspend it like a bridge above the ground.

"The long, narrow site is surrounded by other properties," Shallard says. "And although the site is parallel to the lake, the living areas needed to be elevated to maximise the views and provide privacy."

The decision to suspend the living area within a bold bridge element was also influenced by Shallard's background in engineering.

"In terms of the building structure, I like to push things a little," he says. "The bridge is heavily engineered – it could literally take the weight of a train. But the huge steel trusses provide the character, both inside and out."

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The bridge is supported by cube-like volumes clad in charcoal concrete block with rusted Corten steel window boxes.

"The heavy window surrounds bring a sense of depth to the two structures, which are essentially very simple," says Shallard. "The protruding steel also helps protect the house from the harsh sun."

The kwila-clad terrace beneath the bridge is completely open on two sides, and was developed as an alfresco living area, with barbecue and extractor.

"We didn't want to enclose this space as it would have made the house far too large and it would have detracted from the drama of the bridge."

Individual steel stairs bolted into the block wall lead up to the living area, which is one large open-plan space. A white shelving unit, which incorporates a cantilevered stainless steel fireplace plinth and a TV cabinet, serves as a room divider.

"At 2.4m, the ceiling height in this room is not especially high, but the proportions work with the length of the bridge, particularly when it is viewed from below," says the designer.

A galley-style kitchen is housed in one of the concrete block volumes. Stainless steel benchtops are paired with grey-toned Bestwood Melamine cabinets. These are positioned so the owners can enjoy the view while preparing meals. Other rooms in this part of the house include a second stairwell, bedroom and family bathroom, with a guest suite on the lower level.

The opposite volume accommodates the stairs and master suite. To provide visual continuity, the master bathroom is lined with 600 x 300mm charcoal tiles that replicate the look of the exterior blocks. A study is located on the ground floor.

First published date: 13 July 2010

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Credit List

Builder Lat Forty Five
Kitchen manufacturer Formatt Kitchens
Cladding Charcoal block from NJ Blocklaying; steel by Site Steel
Roofing TPO membrane from Straightline Roofing
Tiling Tile Centre
Carpet Flooring Xtra
Paints and varnishes Dulux from Pringle Decorating
Gas boiler Firebird from Pride in Plumbing
Doors and windows Ellison's Aluminium
Door and window hardware Knobs ‘n Knockers
Furniture Belle; Lat Forty Five
Audiovisual equipment Bose from Gary Anderson
Kitchen cabinetry Bestwood Melamine
Benchtops Stainless steel
Tapware Methven from Edward Gibbon
Oven, cooktop and dishwasher Fisher & Paykel
Ventilation Asko
Refrigerator Miele
Bathroom vanity Primo from Edward Gibbon
Shower enclosure, tapware and fittings Kiri from Edward Gibbon
Bathtub and basin Edward Gibbon
Designer Guy Shallard, Lat Forty Five (Queenstown)