Black House site visit

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009


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Posted under: AC EVENTS, Site visits | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Black House site visit”

  1. m-d Says:

    Nice to see a good turnout, and good to see a nice house…

    It’s on the market btw, so get in quick before some enthusiastic couple comes in and changes this, alters that, replaces this, opens-up there, moves that, removes this, paints that timberwork, adds 3 more bathrooms, covers the entire section in decking, and general destroys a great example of the modest NZ Modernist house…

  2. c-m Says:

    Yes it was a great event – thanks Jane. I loved the kids’ gallery – what a fabulous way to design a corridor.

  3. jmk Says:

    @m-d: so… imagine you were one half of an ‘enthusiastic couple’ who bought a near-original NZ Modernist, and wanted to keep it alive for the future (but without the borer, with decent insulation, adding an extension as always intended, also a shower, and more than 7 power points throughout), what *should* be done on a realistic budget? [for avoidance of doubt, I don’t own the Black House, although have seen it and it is gorgeous]

  4. m-d Says:

    Good question – I am no preservationist, and see change as necessary (as I suspect Fearnley himself would) – this was simply a chance to see the house in its original condition before those changes were made – for better or worse… (even if I was somewhat tongue in cheek with my call to action)…

    In answer to your query – in this case I wouldn’t change much that was visible (most of the budget would no doubt be sucked into the hidden things – the rewiring and insulation – as you point out). I would however, update and slightly rearrange the ‘ablutions wing’ though. I could see no need for an extension – the thought of needing more than 4 bedrooms just scares the heck out of me…

    I found the location to be bothersome though – too much direct sun at the expense of the living spaces…

    For me the problem would be to keep the scale and intimacy of the original work – fostered by the careful crafting of smaller spaces, and the direct material palette – both of which are difficult to find in contemporary work that is typified by spatial spread (rather than flow), and the overbearing presence of Gib acreage… This would not be borne of an urge to preserve, but rather because I enjoy these qualities of the original house (and would have bought it for those reasons).

    I probably wouldn’t trust a contemporary architect to do this – but would let the building itself design its extension… (I don’t necessarily subscribe to the heritage tenet that any addition must be clearly distinguishable from the original fabric of the building)…

  5. guy Says:

    There’s always going to be a need to update certain things with any building, although there probably isn’t anything particularly deficient in the detail of this house. Adding insulation would be an obvious move, but could also have the effect of destroying the internal lining to do so.

    I’d agree with m-d that the bathroom and laundry could do with some work, as it can on any 50 + year old (building or person…)

  6. jmk Says:

    thanks for your thoughtful responses, m-d and guy, I’m with you in trying to skirt between preservationism (which my uni training taught me to avoid-like-plague) and unsympathetic change. It’s tricky, and I think it’ll be an ongoing balance while we decide how to deal with an existing tacked-on extension and tiny original kitchen [nb I didn’t mean to imply the Black House was full of borer, or needed extension – it wasn’t and didn’t as far as I could see – however *my* little piece of Modern of similar age…]. much appreciated. j.

  7. m-d Says:

    In my comment above a missed a crucial word – I found the location of the KITCHEN to be particularly bothersome…

  8. m-d Says:

    Guy – i would have thought that it isn’t the “originality” of the internal lining that is important, but that the same ‘effect’ of the existing lining could easily be recreated by careful crafting of the details…

  9. guy Says:

    Yes, i agree. But it depends of course what the material is, and how easy it is to replicate. If the internal lining is gib-board, painted, then obviously it is no problem at all, and i think no heritage architect would complain about a newer material being substituted for old.

    But some materials are more difficult to source than others – and so are some of the linings. What if there was a particularly interesting patterned wall paper for instance? In the case of the Fearnley House, i don’t think there was, but you know how some wall papers are….

  10. m-d Says:

    Sure, but I wouldn’t get hung up (no pun intended) about exact matching of the wallpaper (or any other material) – it is the experiential effect that I enjoy, and would seek to uphold – I am sure that with the emergence of retro-wallpaper designs that, should that be an issue, something suitable could be selected. I wouldn’t shun modern alternatives – if they could be employed to the same effect…

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