Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

O'Neill House

Mt Pleasant, Christchurch

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On a hill site, looking to the ocean and Southern Alps, once stood HMOA Director Duval O’Neill and wife Bridget's home, designed in the 1950s by architect Don Cowey. Following damage from the Christchurch earthquakes, this modest house was demolished and in its place, and to a similar layout, is a brand new three-bedroom home.

At the heart of the design was the desire to keep the essence of Cowey’s house, while adapting it for contemporary living. Adding just 36 metres to
the 148 sq metre plan original floor plan, the biggest shift in planning was to develop the basement into a master bedroom and ensuite with a second living area, and to connect the upper level of the house with the garden via a new timber bridge. The upstairs entry level has two bedrooms, bathroom and open plan living.

The material palette remains the same as Cowey originally detailed it—simple, natural, with lots of wood. The original double-skin cladding has also been maintained, articulating each elevation in dark Western Red Cedar or Siberian Larch. Along with an experimental warm roof construction, the new house is super-insulated for the Canterbury climate.

Read more on the blog about the original Don Cowey house and Duval's experience of rebuilding it.

Photos: Russell Kleyn