Architecture For Sale

February 19, 2014

Bruce Rotherham | Rotherham House | Devonport

Designed and built concurrent with the Second House was the Rotherham House, the most radical of the Group’s early houses.  It was designed not for ‘Everyman’, but for and by Bruce Rotherham and was full of extraordinary experimentation: glass curtain wall, flagstone floor, brick core designed to accommodate and organ, subterranean wine cellar, mezzanine with sloping sides, outdoor toilet.  The Herald drew attention to these elements, and quoted Rotherham as saying that ‘the house was largely an experiment’.  The result, consistent with the architects later comment that the architecture was ‘space formed by building’,  is a wonderful experience of space and volume, and of materiality and texture.  Eyes are lifted up by the double-height space; walls and roof, lined  by diagonally laid pine boards, are in dialogue with the sloping sides of the mezzanine that hovers in the centre of the house; feet are massaged by stone slabs that are smooth on the entry side of the building and increasingly textured on the studio side; and roughly laid red bricks and mortar are necessarily touched when going up or down the crevasse-like staircases: this is not a house for the comfortably corpulent bourgeoisie, but rather for the lean bohemian.

Text from Group Architects, Towards a New Zealand Modern by Julia Gatley

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