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Kilbirnie Alteration


      This project was an alteration to a villa, where most of the action occurs out of sight - internally and towards the rear - where the reconfigured house exterior remains staged and incomplete largely to the street frontage. When we arrived on site for the first time this 1920s villa was separated into two flats. As the owners had a growing family, the brief for the renovation project was to include the lower floor flat into the house while simply making the building a sensible place to live. But reconfiguring the adhoc planning of the two flat villa into a three-bedroom house did require inventive planning as not only was the upper floor living area compartmentalised into separate kitchen, dining and living rooms; but the lower flat and upper floor entry had been typically added and altered by DIY builders without any design input. The house also needed re-piling, new plumbing and wiring.

In the brief entertaining friends was the next highest priority, this meant there was a need to open the upper floor into an open plan living space that could flow along the plan toward the sunny sheltered rear courtyard. Upper floor lean-to sheds were removed and small bedrooms, and upstairs bathroom were also replaced during the project. The addition reworks the existing plan completely, creating internal spaces that open to the rear of the villa creating a contemporary, warm, inviting and very usable interior. A lean-to building was removed to exploit a courtyard for entertaining and recreation, directly connected to the dining area. A central linear kitchen connects the living and dining spaces and creates a clean-lined multi-use space that creates an aesthetically beautiful and functional plan. Contemporary materials and finishes compliment the existing house in a manner reminiscent of an inner cir warehouse conversion. While the kitchen forms the centre of the plan - reversing the normal kitchen-dining-living format - this allows great flow around a new stair up from the lower front door, to the hallway for the private bedroom and bathroom areas to the south, as we as access to the living spaces.

The ceiling lights overhead, ensure a light open space is created where windows along the boundary have been removed for the tall kitchen joinery. hidden under the eave, additional space was created for the kitchen joinery storage. Past the kitchen to the west, a wall of sliding glass doors connects the open-plan living space to the rear wast-facing sheltered courtyard. Here the dining is situated opening to the courtyard, with fish-bowl window to the rear that offers glimpses of greenery while eating. 


Away from the courtyard, the living area inhabits the east facing street elevation- taking in views over Kilbirnie towards Evans Bay. The feature Velux skylights allow midday sunlight to enter into the newly contemporary open plan space that flows effortlessly east from the kitchen into the formal living area. Here exposed brick chimney remains as a juxtaposed feature and heating fixture. On a more functional level, the high specification of re-insulation and new double glazed joinery may render this renovated fire un-used. 

Registered Architects

Studio 1.04, 28 Waterloo Quay 
PO Box 595, Wellington, 6140  |  04 473 9777

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