House with Villa Silhouette

Photographer: Patrick Reynolds


A house after the Christchurch quakes. One creative home comes down, another goes up, the new silhouetting the old, reminding, resettling, providing lineage.

Where the former villa sat square and inward, the new layers out across the southern view, shaping to the silhouette for light, and framing a greater appreciation of the everyday.

Timber traces the silhouette of the old house, providing warmth, and privacy by opening and closing the view, finding sun and shelter on a south-facing shadowed and exposed site, and layering ways in and out amongst its close neighbours. That the house is hard to recognise from afar but remains open to its close community, is testament to the notion of resettling with the surrounding context, ideas we exhibited at the 2015 Prague International Architecture Festival entitled Soft Architecture: Soft Context. House with Villa Silhouette is finished as a moment in time, yet looks to its neighbours for future re-finishing. It is soft and participates with a landscape that continues to shift physically and as a community.

To its artist’s owners’, the house provides an affordable continuation in lieu of their much loved but earthquake destroyed villa; a place of craft, creativity, and lineage through the earthquakes. Post quake, they find renewed interest in small things: hanging a pot plant, drying a wetsuit, making tracks for the cat to walk on, an interest in 1970’s aesthetics… Frames are left to provide opportunities for future play, adaption, new endeavours, change. Post-quake time has become more continuous.

Life goes on, remaining (like Lyttleton) modest, informal, busy, and full of the same eclectic furniture and stories as before… but resettled and ready for more.

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