What began as the homeowners’ vision of an industrial-inspired design, reminiscent of an abandoned warehouse, became a high performing work of art in the hands of the design and build team. NZ Builders partnered with Monolith Systems, using their architectural concrete insulated wall panel technology, and Jason Good Custom Cabinets’ custom cabinetry to create this 3000-square-foot residence overlooking McNeil Bay. The home offers sophisticated energy efficiency and Wenner Smart Home systems automation inside an exquisite example of modern architecture.
From the outside, the house presents as a modern industrial structure of concrete, steel, and glass, finished with sculptural stainless steel handrails by blacksmith Jake James, who also created the retractable front gate installed with a bit of creative engineering by the NZ team.
A ribbon driveway leads to the polished concrete detached garage and back garden, where a galvanized steel arbour encloses concrete chaises and a fire bowl crafted by the NZ team. From the upper back deck, a large glass floor block peeks through to the hot tub area below, where a sculptural wall panel by James serves as both art and a privacy screen. Ornamental grass landscaping by Biophilia Design softly blends the architecture with its beach-front surroundings.
The two-storey “lighthouse” entry atrium is enclosed with full storey height custom glass with diagonal mullions. “The windows had to be engineered, manufactured and then tested specifically for this house,” says NZ Builders’ founder, Damon Gray. Like the windows, the entire house required constant engineering innovation to bring the designer’s plans to life. “Every piece of timber, and every concrete pour had a lot of love going into it,” says Gray, who devoted a full-time draftsman to the project for the 18 months it took to finish the home.
That level of care and sheer design artistry is evident throughout the home, even in the individual concrete slabs that make up the structure of the house. One entire exterior panel is graced with a life-size image of a Garry oak tree, taken by the homeowners. This type of graphic concrete art involves casting an image onto a membrane using a retarder. The membrane is placed on the bottom of the form before the concrete is poured, and a chemical reaction between the retarder and concrete etches the image permanently onto the finished slab.
“Each panel is a bit of a surprise. You never know what the concrete will look like until it’s removed from the form,” says Gray, who explains that this is the inherent beauty of working with concrete. In this home, the concrete panels are integral to the interior design. Much of the flooring, for example, is polished concrete, with embedded wood flooring beneath the master and guest beds, plus ornate strips of wood inlay in the lower hallway. Even the guest bathtub and shower are concrete.
“There’s minimal drywall in this house, so everything had to be deadly precise,” says designer Melissa Orton of Jason Good Custom Cabinets. A distinct and colourful design scheme distinguishes each room in the house, along with features like hidden walk-in closets behind the beds in each of the two bedrooms and integrated automated lighting by Wenner. In the guest bath, glass tiles in tangerine shades create an ombre effect on the walls, ceiling and vanity panels, with white Corian countertops for fresh contrast. “Because of the weight of the tile, grout, and wood substrate, special attention to detail and hardware was required to handle the weight of the drawers,” says Orton.
Steel pivot doors with inlays of oxidized copper lead to both bedrooms. In the master suite, the side tables and ensuite vanity are finished in a vivid, high-gloss metallic car finish that Good colour matched to Benjamin Moore’s “Tropical Turquoise.” White Corian countertops extend inside the shower stall and into the toilet area, with built-in shelving on either end for storing toiletries out of sight. The dual sinks look like milky beach glass, and illuminate from the inside. The concrete vertical pillar that houses the shower hardware was crafted by the NZ Builders team.
“With such a splashy colour on the vanity, the rest of the finishes are natural,” says Orton. The peekaboo laundry room’s simple white lacquer fronts get just a touch of pizazz from the black pulls, with hints of orange on the washer and dryer control panels.
The same is true upstairs in the kitchen, where a more muted shade of lacquer pairs with custom stained wire-brushed oak with flush pulls imported from New Zealand — a look that also carries into the office overlooking the front entry. Glass front panel doors with a waterfall-like pattern slide to hide the pantry, which automatically lights up whenever the doors are opened and closed. The island features a combination of 3form ecoresin and waxed steel countertops, which contrast with the glass-topped buffet, where wavy panel doors by 3form add yet another sculptural element to the home.
The main floor’s striking design revolves around the steel beams and meticulously finished concrete walls with exposed lifting anchors and feature-panels of graphic art. Jake James crafted the ornate staircase railings and statement fireplace surround, which was crafted to look as though it had been shot through with a cannon ball. The panels open to allow access to the fireplace for maintenance.
Out on the balcony, remote control privacy shades unfold from inside the ceiling, for private enjoyment of the spectacular ocean views. A full length Ipe wood bar extends along one side of the deck, with overhead heating lamps for year round outdoor living. “A true custom home means you’re never on repeat; you’re always using your library of knowledge amassed over the years,” states Gray. In this collaboration between Gray and Good, their unique blend of cutting edge technology and artistic invention created a breathtaking home that pushes the boundaries of forward-thinking construction and design.