A piece of Palm Springs in New Zealand
Christchurch is the largest town on New Zealand’s South Island and capital of the Canterbury Region. Fendalton is one of its wealthiest suburbs, located to the west of the centre. The numerous earthquakes that have struck New Zealand in recent years have not spared Christchurch, which was badly damaged in 2011 and again in 2016.
Built to replace an existing earthquake-damaged building, the Fendalton House 4 project is the result of a collaboration between the two local practices O’Neil Architects, a Christchurch-based firm founded by Darren O’Neil, and Lume Design, an interior design firm led by Jeff and Melissa Merrin.
Fendalton House 4 is inspired by the aesthetics of the famous International Style which originated in the mid-twentieth century on the West Coast of the United States from projects by architects such as Richard Neutra, Paul R. Williams, Donald Wexler and William F. Cody and continues to be celebrated annually during Modernism Week. The house is one of the many diverse residential projects carried out by Darren O’Neil’s practice in this part of the country as part of the earthquake reconstruction efforts.
The intentionally simple architecture consists of three partially superimposed parallelepiped volumes arranged in an L-shape layout. One is a ground-level single-floor volume while the other is a two-storey structure with a partially cantilevered front. The cantilever, facing the entrance, is supported by three dynamic, deftly placed prongs.
The entrance leads into the central section of the house, a double-height fulcrum located at the point of intersection between the volumes and furnished by an essential, light staircase made of square American oak beams jutting out from the wall and clad with Timaru stone slabs.
The house is inhabited by a family of three and organised over three open, brightly-lit levels, two above ground and one basement. It has five bedrooms and four bathrooms distributed over two floors, a multimedia room, an office and a yoga room looking out onto the outdoor pool. A lift connects the basement, with its eight parking spaces, to the service area behind the open-plan kitchen.
The living area, an open space facing onto the exterior of the property, is located on the ground floor and communicates with the garden thanks to the large full-height windows on both sides.
Fully opening motorised sliding doors and windows connect the living spaces with the exterior.
The interior adopts a minimalist colour palette, counterbalanced by textures and a judicious choice of materials in the colours white, black and multiple shades of grey. According to Darren O’Neil, «material variety was an important aspect of the design. The muted, near-monochromatic colour palette allows the architecture to speak for itself. Uncomplicated but sophisticated, the compilation of soft greys and neutral shades lends itself perfectly to the elegant and simplistic aesthetic direction.» Completely white walls inside and out complement the grey of the natural stone and the soft, concrete-effect shades of the porcelain tiles produced by Ascot Everytile. Grey slabs from the Prowalk collection are installed on all indoor and outdoor floors, bringing the sophistication and quality of Italian ceramics to the faraway land of New Zealand.
Ascot Everytile, Prowalk
75x150 Nat, 60x60 Out
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,5 %
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): conforme
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): PEI V
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 40÷55 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): B