Cradled in nature's hammock of native bush, and with magical views of Southshore's rugged coast, Bespoke Architecture has crafted a safe haven for one New Brighton homebody.
Just a stone’s throw from the dunes and crashing waves is where Pete Sealey built his very first home on Rocking Horse Road in 1975. Raising his family in the humble A-frame house, he and his wife, Sue, had always planned to build again – on a smaller scale – once the kids had flown the coop and they’d retired.
However, this dream was shattered with Sue’s sudden death in 2012. However, in the wake of the tragedy – and not long after Pete had retired from Air New Zealand after 45 years of service – he
bravely picked up the pieces of his broken dream and forged ahead.
After tossing numerous ideas around, ranging from waterfront apartments in nearby Sumner or on the Gold Coast, Pete came full circle and chose to stick with the original plan: to subdivide the property, sell the family home, and build on the remaining section – a space that had played host to many backyard cricket matches over the years.
Using the building project as an instrument of healing, Pete navigated his way through the pain by keeping busy and surrounding himself with people. The light at the end of the tunnel – that is, the promise of his new home – propelled him forward. But, he says, the journey was just as important as the final outcome.
‘Friends for years’, Pete says that bringing Brighton builder Bruce Tait of Tait Construction on board was a ‘no brainer’, as his reputation for quality workmanship is ‘second to none’. Thrilled to have Bruce at the helm, Pete asked his trusted builder to recommend an architect to bring his vision to life, and although Bruce had never worked with Bespoke Architecture before, it was a punt both he and Pete were glad they took.
Owing to Bruce’s ability to preempt issues and plan accordingly, there were no hiccups or delays. Running like a well-oiled machine and inspiring confidence at every turn, Bruce worked with his son, Paul, and engaged Pete throughout the process.
With 45 years as an aircraft engineer under his belt, Pete describes himself as a ‘fastidious perfectionist’, and his deep respect and appreciation for quality workmanship is evident as he talks about his journey with the building crew who quickly became his second family.
A basic ‘box on top of boxes’ was the rough concept Pete brought to Bespoke Architecture, who then presented Pete with drawings and a computer model that addressed the vital structural elements and filled in the interior details. Pete was awestruck by Bespoke’s ability to translate his ideas, and their understanding of the seaside locale. ‘When I saw the drawings, I just about fell off my chair! It was exactly what I’d envisaged.’
At the end of a long driveway, framed by towering trees, the statuesque two-storey home is clad in a striking combination of stained cedar and crisp white plaster. Favoured among builders as a low maintenance, high performance exterior cladding solution, Rockcote Integra lightweight concrete from Resene Construction Systems provides the building with a weather-tight envelope. And, for a premium hand-applied finish, this lightweight and durable concrete plaster facade was applied with precision by Mark McCormick from Frame Contracting, one of Resene Construction System's licensed professionals.
The design and choice of materials were largely dictated by the often hostile coastal environment, which demanded: hardy materials to endure the corrosive salty air, higher levels of structural reinforcement to withstand the ‘wicked’ easterlies that whip along the coastline and to stand up to the challenges that building on sand presents.
Complying with Flood Management Legislation presented Bespoke with yet another design puzzle to solve. So that it sits at the minimum floor level to satisfy legal requirements, the house needed to be elevated – to sit slightly above the floor level of the garage. And, due to the differing floor levels, between the dwelling and the garage, a slip joint was constructed to limit any damage caused by future seismic events.
As Bespoke says, the ‘funky form’ of this simple, yet well-considered contemporary home harnesses all available sunlight, capitalises on the stunning coastal views and is snugly ensconced within the dense native bush that Pete has lovingly cultivated over the years in preparation for this moment.
A modern glass, timber and stainless steel staircase leads to the first floor above, and to a separate ground floor apartment that Pete plans to rent out as an Airbnb rental. Containing a master bedroom, en suite with freestanding bath, office, kitchenette, and living area opening onto a shaded deck, the lush vegetation creates an oasis that calms the mind and nourishes the soul.
Ascending the staircase to the floor above where Pete lives, sunlight floods the open-plan kitchen, dining and living areas, which can be extended on two sides by sliding back the glass doors – making this Pete’s favourite space on sunny days, when he’s not tending to the garden.
Pete adores the close proximity to the ocean. On his daily walks with his beloved four-legged, furry companion, Euchre, he enjoys fossicking for sand dollars, seashells and whatever flotsam and jetsam the sea offers up.
While building a home for one wasn’t the plan, Pete is satisfied to have created ‘a monument to Sue’ that she would have been proud of.
Words: Majka Kaiser Styling & Production: Majka Kaiser & BoConcept
Photography: Mick Stephenson