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New homes sometimes emerge from the shell of an existing property – you just need a good architect and a little help from Westpac

Starting over

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There's nothing like starting afresh with a new home. Being able to tailor a design to your own requirements and preferences is the best way to acquire a home that ticks all the boxes.

The owners of this property essentially did just that, but the original house on site provided the base for the design by Auckland architect André Hodgskin.

"The existing house did have some positive features, including its position on the boundary," Hodgskin says. "Having the house on one side created a sunny courtyard. The existing building also had good bones. It was very solid and severe on the street, with just a ribbon of windows that allowed the roof to be read as a floating plane."

But Hodgskin says several key architectural features were not maximised by the white weatherboards, including the soaring end ofthe roof.

"We went to the other extreme, painting the exterior dark charcoal, almost black. This accentuates the roof form and gives the house a much stronger, more dramatic presence."

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Because the owners had requested the house be a city oasis – much as their beach house was a seaside escape – the architect added a privacy screen to the courtyard. Made from folded, woven acrylic panels, the screen is backlit by the sun by day, and uplit at night. The courtyard was also remodelled to create a seamless link with the interior.

In keeping with the need for a more open, spacious layout, the interior was gutted, and several walls and part of the upper floor were removed. This provides open circulation areas rather than closed-in hallways.

The front door now opens to a central, double-height atrium with a sculptural staircase that appears to float within the space.

"The stairs seem to hover above a plinth, which was dictated by the relatively tight space," says Hodgskin. "The stairs needed to turn, so we explored different ways to create a landing. The plinth makes the stair more imposing, and the space seems larger."

All the living areas flow from the atrium – the kitchen and casual dining area are near the stairs. And despite the open-plan design, there are several large walls that form a backdrop for the owners' extensive art collection.

"A black, charcoal and white colour scheme extends through the house and out into the courtyard," Hodgskin says. "It's a subdued palette that allows the colourful art to be showcased. We also paid close attention to the finishing and used negative detailing to enhance the sleek simplicity of the design."

For most families, the first challenge in such a project involves financial planning, and this is something that is best sorted at the outset. Just as you take time to find an architect or a design-build company that is on the same wavelength, you also need to tailor your finance to meet your needs.

Westpac can help in many different ways, but it is best to talk to a consultant about the options – you may be surprised to see just how easy it is to fund your new home project.

Westpac can advise on different types of home loans, so your loan can be structured in a way that works best for you.

For further details visit your local Westpac branch or phone 0800 177 277. Or visit the website:www.westpac.co.nz .

First published date: 27 December 2011

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