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Twisting by the pool

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Sheltered from the elements, this courtyard offers another dimension to city living


In urban settings, site constraints often make large gardens and courtyards a luxury. However, this home shows how the elements of contemporary outdoor living – alfresco dining, a swimming pool and lush foliage – can be successfully merged on a diminutive strip of land.

As a rectangular box with two towers at either end, the house sits on a long narrow site of approximately 12m-wide, says architect and owner Graham Bull. Stretched out along one side of the house is a decked area with a 2m-wide by 8m-long swimming pool. The main living areas of the home spill out onto this outdoor space, via large glazed sliding doors.

"This means we can easily keep an eye on the children swimming – even when we're entertaining," says Bull.

Strategically placed underneath lighting transforms the pool into a twinkling water feature at night. Up-lighting punctuates the hedge flanking one side of the pool, further accentuating the effect.

"Because the area is so well-protected from the elements, the water in the pool is usually very still. During the day, the reflection of a neighbouring chamerops palm teamed with limey-green bromeliads create a striking visual impact," says the architect.


Pool surrounds of ground and polished concrete, teamed with balau timber steps, complement the home's exterior colour scheme of grey and silver.

In keeping with the structure's clean, simple lines, a canvas sail on a cantilevered steel frame provides shade to the outdoor area.

First published date: 23 December 2004

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Credit List

Architect Graham Bull, Architecture by Graham Bull (Auckland)
Landscape architect (planting) Trudi Crerar & Associates
Pool designer Graham Bull
Courtyard and paving Ground polished concrete from Stevensons; pool copping from Stevensons Terrazzo and Paving; white stepping stones from Mod Tezz Tile & Paving Company
Pool Rob Thomas Pools
Chlorination Triclor Tables
Pool filtration Waterco
Lighting Advance Lighting Technologies
Outdoor chairs Philippe Starck from Indice