Monday, 23 January 2006

Selling a glass box

"There's nothing sadder than a pub with no beer." So goes the song. Hard to believe, I know, but there is something sadder: a house on which hundreds of thosands of dollars has been lavished, and which has all the charm of an overheated glass box. And wouldn't you know it, that's just what this house is (see photo right, with a sunset to give it interest) -- 800sqm of summer house for which the sun would be an enemy.

No shade to stop the sun; no eaves to give you shade or shelter from the rain (yes Virginia, the afternoon sun in summer can be over-bearing, particularlarly through glass; yes, it does rain in Auckland) -- and devoid of delight, or character.

Shame on all involved. No wonder it's for sale, and as a consequence being talked up all over the shop.

Links: 379G Gordons Rd, Waiheke Island - AAA site
Waiheke: Waiheke's world famous secret - Herald


  1. Can't see a big cantilevered deck, either.


    Great location- what a bloody shame!

  2. That house would drive me insane.

    The first thing I think of when deciding when I would want to live in a house or not is "what would it be like in your average mid-winter cold shitty southerly storm?" And I reckon that thing'd be hopeless. The roof's flat for a start, I don't know if there are any openable windows or reasonable means of controlling the temperature so it would be a sauna in summer and a frezzer in winter. There's no privacy. blah blah blah

    I mean, don't people think when they look at the plans "I have to 'LIVE' in that"

  3. I recently joined a tour of very expensive new houses in Rodney District. What most struck me was we live at a time when nature and organic and such terms are done to death.
    And yet, with one exception, these houses were singularly devoid of any decent piece of timber or other natural or organic material. They were made of concrete, plaster, aluminium, stainless steel, aluminium, and tiles.The tiles in the bathrooms were normally black while most walls were painted grey. The gardens were devoid of grass and most areas were paved with pebbles with the odd spiky plant lurking by the path.
    They were "cold" and a housekeepers nightmare - I felt scared to lay my hands on anything - including the handrails on stairs which were typically sheets of glass.
    What the hell is going on?

  4. Good question, Owen (and good points Eric and Oswald).

    One practical reason is that perhaps it's just too difficult to use anything out of the ordinary that hasn't got a pre-approved BRANZ test or BIA approval -- which rules out most genuinely natural materials. And given all the rules against such things, it's just impossible to integrate houses with trees -- as the old 'Tree House' in Takapuna did for example. Given the rules against such things, and the need to landscapea site in order to get your Code Compliance Certificate, it's easier these days just to get a bare site and to put down Insta-Landscape once the house is up.

    Perhaps also, it's become too bloody hard to get hold of reasonably priced hardwoods to use in houses these days -- impossible to get natives, expensive to use Australian and just too hard to counter all the anti-tropical-hardwood hysteria? Pine is fine, but hardwood can be used more widely. But not if you can't use it.

    Perhaps also, too much of people's nature worship is done in the abstract rather than in reality -- they're too scared to really engage with nature without appeasing all the contemporary PC reverence for 'Nature' in the abstract -- and there's just too much bloody nonsense thrown up around the idea of 'nature' that perhaps it just seems easier to most people to reject any stylistic association with it.

    The word "organic" is a clue. IMO, it's thrown around today with no real understanding of its meaning, and little knowledge.

    When Frank Lloyd Wright talked about 'nature' he didn't mean something to reverence from a distance, or to treat as some kind of untouchable museum piece -- he treated it as something from which to learn important lessons, and as something to make over for man's use. How unfashionable, but how delightful his results.

    Further, when Wright used the word 'organic' he meant an outer expression of something within; he meant effect over affect. These days, however, 'gee whiz' architectural affectation has replaced long-term satisfaction; fashion has replaced any genuine expression of character.

    Today, it seems, most architectural interest is in surface affects, and in pure appearance over use or comfort or real lasting delight. Sadly, too many houses are designed either with a view to just looking good in magazine pictures, or in emulation of some shallow affect just seen in a magazine, or simply to impress your guests and/or your neighbours. Mediocrity copying mediocrity. (Describes many people as well as their houses, doesn't it.)

    Surface shallowness is driving out 'organic common sense,' just as it did in the worst of the cardboard architecture of the International Style that much of today's stuff is copying: thin susrface stuff that as Frank Loyd Wright used to say, ignored the ideas of depth and the third dimension and real organic thinking that can give a house true style, and real liveability.

    I have to say, Owen, that from my recollection of it there's more comfort and delight in your own living room than there is in most of these cold, rarified boxes. Cold, charmless, and -- given how often they seem to change hands -- unliveable.

    Architecture, as Frank Loyd Wright said, "is that great inclusive agency through which mankind adapts the environment to human needs and, reciprocally, attunes human life to its cosmos; amid continual changes architecture can keep human life more natural and nature more humane." Judged by that standard, looks likes too many architects have failed, doesn't it.

  5. It's just such a damn shame to see that hothouse on such a site!

    An outlook like that deserves a house like Taliesin East!

  6. Devoid of charm, a window cleaners wet dream, blocked off from any relationship with the surrounding countryside, no parentage in the landscape or the people, a swimming pool on an island of beaches.

    Should be a real winner with the

  7. Spot on.

    The car says as much as the house. Inverted hedgehogs, both of them.

    I'd like to see a higher resolution shot - I'd zoom in and see the Heineken bottles on the glass coffee table.


  8. Robert Winefield27 Jan 2006, 17:32:00

    Worse still, what about privacy? What about the itimacy that being able to see out without others seeing in gives you?

    Damn it! On a Saturday I like to have a morning shower and wander around the place in a bath towel while the coffee & my breakfast brews. Maybe even slouch on the sofa and read the sport's page.

    How in Christ's name are you ever going to be able to relax like that in this overpriced two-story gold-fish bowl?

    Forget watching the footy on TV. The goddamned glare from the sun would overpower any image on the screen.

    Forget playing back-yard cricket! (A) there is no back yard, and (B) there is no surface that can resist the impact from a solid cover-drive.

    In other words this place is designed for social-wanking only. Ball-gowns and tails, guest-lists selected from the pages of Metro Magazine sucking down chardonnay with their pinky-fingers sticking out.

    Fuck the Auckland Architechture Anus. Richard Priest is a zipper-head. This place fucking sucks. I wouldn't even fill it with water and put tropical fish in it.

  9. Robert Winefield27 Jan 2006, 17:34:00

    In other words - you can't be yourself in this godawful shit-hole. And if you can't be yourself in your own goddamned home what is the point of building the bastard in the first place?


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.