279 Cannon Hill Young Architects | ArchiPro CA

Cannon Hill

Located in the Port Hills area of Christchurch this home presents a barn-like facade to the street, belying the aesthetic complexity concealed behind this rather understated first impression.

“The humble street facade cloaks a home that looks towards a magnificent view, encapsulating the spaces that focus over the city towards the Southern Alps. The hero of this home is the way it opens up towards the outlook, while still remaining a beautiful home rather than just a picture frame,” says architect Greg Young of Young Architects.

The brief from the clients was for a forever home that would not only be a joy to live in but that would also allow them to pursue their hobbies of guitar making and fabric working.

Arranged over two floors, the home comprises a main floor level, which houses an open-plan living area with mezzanine, main bedroom suite, garage and workshop. Downstairs incorporates guest accommodations.

Greg says the site—which was a bare block when the owners bought it, the previous house having been removed after being damaged in the earthquakes—required minimal manipulation and the goal was to work with the existing footprint as much as possible.

“Following the natural topography, the home steps down the hillside as it reaches towards the distant views. It would have been easy at this point to simply construct a “barn”, one large, homogenous form but taking cues from The Group Architects and The Christchurch School, we created a series of gradated forms that serve to break up the overall mass.”

Employing the yakisugi technique, the cladding is predominantly charred Siberian larch, the blackened exterior not only serving to protect the timber but to also help the form of the house recede into its surroundings when viewed from a distance.

The remainder of the exterior cladding is long run steel with a 49mm standing seam, the resulting play of light and shadow across its surface also adding nuance to the exterior. Carved into both is a series of recesses that have been lined with red beech.

“The natural warmth of the beech carries through internally, with more timber—LVL beams, pinus radiata ply and Southland beech—used throughout as a homage to the guitar-making client’s love of timber and woodworking,” says Greg.

One particular example of this nod to woodworking is the large bookcase element in the living area, which Greg says, serves multiple purposes.

“The bookcase performs both form and function duties. Functionally, it adds structural support to the staircase behind and serves as a repository for the owners’ books and objets d’art. Aesthetically, it adds textural interest to the interior while screening the staircase and, as some of the apertures have been left open, it creates a diffuse light in these areas. Also, I just happen to really like bookcases, I find them infinitely interesting.

“For a whole raft of reasons this has been a really fun project to work on and being able to answer the clients’ brief and give them spaces focused around linking living with studio spaces—open plan but distinct—has been very rewarding.”

Words by Justin Foote
Photography by Dennis Rademacher—Lightforge Photography

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From the street, the house presents a rather humble, barn-like facade, which subtly references the design intent within the home.
A series of niches have been 'carved' into the home's exterior and lined with red beech to add warmth to the yakisugi cladding.
A pop of colour brings vibrancy and leaves no doubt in the mind of visitors as to where the front door is.
A series of gradated forms was created to break up the overall mass of the house and to accentuate the ridge line of the roof.
LVL beams have been stripped right back and a cross-brace motif employed to showcase the inherent beauty of the timber.
A large, faceted marble island adds further architectural interest to the open-plan living space.
A floor-to-ceiling window on the street side of the house helps bring light into the entryway.
Upon entering the home, the extensive view is revealed.
Expansive glazing on the west-facing facade opens the home to the wide-ranging view across the basin towards the Southern Alps.
The open-plan living area features a range of timbers—a design feature that pays homage to one of the clients' love of woodworking.
The bookcase is, in itself, a work of art, making a sculptural statement in the living area.
As well as providing storage for a range of items, the bookcase element also serves as structural support for the staircase.
A small mezzanine area was created to act as a studio space for one of the owners.
Open apertures in the large bookcase element serve to admit diffused light onto the stairs.
The double-height living area adds volumetric drama to the interior.
The understated yet richly textural palette continues in the bathroom with its mix of stone and timber.
A small balcony connects the downstairs guest accommodations with the backyard.
The cantilevered balcony upstairs provides the owners with the opportunity to further immerse themselves in their surroundings.
Arranged over two floors, the home comprises a main floor level, which houses an open-plan living area with mezzanine, main bedroom suite, garage and workshop. Downstairs incorporates guest accommodations.
The site was a bare block when the current owners purchased it; the previous house having been damaged in the earthquakes and subsequently removed. The new home was designed to be in keeping with the original footprint.