Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

Redcliffs House in Abode Magazine


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Redcliffs Houseby Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects
Redcliffs House Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects Christchurch

Duval O'Neill's Redcliffs House profiled in Abode

We've republished a recent article in Abode Magazine: words by Kathy Catton, images by Sarah Rowland.


A stunning coastal location and a need for a future-proofed retirement led the way to a magnificent design by Herriot Melhuish O'Neill Architects

“You know I’m a bit of a perfectionist?” These are the words of homeowner Judith de la Cour in conversation with architect Duval O’Neill of Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects and builder Clive Barrington of Clive Barrington Construction. As an octogenarian, Judith was familiar with taking on projects, and this was going to be her last and possibly her best.

The vision for this home was to create a high-quality home on Te Rae Kura (The Red Flowing Headland), on the Avon-Heathcote estuary, in the Redcliffs suburb of Ōtautahi Christchurch. And with an estuary comes ever-changing views. At high tide you have the glimmer of water; at low tide, you have all the seabirds and marine life. At the time of writing, a pantheon of godwits could be seen feeding in preparation for their long voyage north in late summer.

This was undoubtedly one of the many attractions of this site for Judith. Post-earthquake, she had bought the original, “as-is, where-is” property with a view of Moncks Bay, at the edge of the estuary, facing the Pacific Ocean beyond. Judith demolished the original property and built her first contemporary home. She lived there with her husband for five years.

Redcliffs House by Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects kitchen

The two-storey, two-bedroom 345sqm home has a sculptural quality to the exterior that aligns with the dynamic nature of being at the edge. The dwelling is clad in platinum-oiled Siberian larch and stainless steel, giving it an enduring appearance. “We needed to find materials that could handle a daily beating by the sun and marine environment,” says Duval. “The durability and high performance of these materials are ideal for that. Also, they provide a timeless appearance, which is enhanced by the changing light conditions of this unique site.”

Internally, the detailing is where this home further comes to life. The hanging stairs are a significant feature, and the upper living and dining floor spaces feed off a central core stairwell. With skylights above and a stained glass window at one end, the eye is immediately taken to the sea views. “It’s reasonably open plan upstairs, with one big wrap-around space. Downstairs the plan presents as a hammerhead shape, incorporating the protected covered entry,” says Duval.

Exterior cladding of Redcliffs House in Christchurch by Duval ONeill

The use of sliding screens also allows for a home office upstairs and the clever use of interior windows above internal doors adds to that airy feel. “The detailing for us is everything,” says Duval. “From the built-in joinery to the placement of the windows, there’s no part of the house that hasn’t been thoroughly considered and thought through.”

The execution of the finished design came down to the expert craftsmanship of Clive Barrington and his hard-working team.

“It was a tight site with a skinny-access driveway. We wanted to make it bulletproof, basically,” says Clive. “It’s built high off the ground to mitigate flood risk and all materials are compatible with the harsh
coastal environment.”

To meet the brief of future-proofing the home, a high-quality lift has been installed, and the
two downstairs bedrooms have easy access and accompanying large bathrooms.

The build wasn’t without its challenges, though. The first month on-site was spent remediating the ground. Following that, there were on-and-off Covid- induced delays.

Says Duval: “Then came the supply issues, but Clive had the experience to be able to adapt construction sequencing accordingly to manage this.” There was also the issue of considering the coastal boundary, which Judith wanted to look after and naturalise as part of the process.

Redcliffs House by Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects. furniture photoshopped

The total build took a little under two and a half years, but according to Judith it was well worth the wait. “I moved in last November,” she says, “I don’t plan to live anywhere else, so this one has got to be right.”

Not afraid to use furnishings from her previous homes, Judith has created a peaceful and homely abode. “I lived in France for 14 years, so there’s definitely a sense of that in my home,” she says. “I think one of the hardest things was getting the colour right in the kitchen.”

Judith’s vision and Duval’s design is executed flawlessly by Clive’s “top of their game” team. “It’s been wonderful working with Clive and Duval. As well as me wanting to get it just right, they understood that and knew it was up to them to get it faultless,” says Judith. “There’s no part of the house I don’t like. They’ve done an amazing job.”

Transforming landscapes

Original stone was salvaged from the site to incorporate into the landscape design of this home, anchoring the new home to its past. Landscape designer and director Clare McMahon from Clare View Design collaborated with the architects and client to transform the gardens and turn the somewhat originally derelict waterfront site into a lush, native haven. Textural plants and curving Corten steel were used to give playful areas of interest throughout the seasons. Because the large sea-facing windows look down onto the gardens, it was essential to consider how they looked from above, as well as at ground level.

Redcliffs Christchurch House by Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects
Redcliffs House Christchurch by Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects
The brush-rolled stainless steel cladding, TARC v25 Cassette, supplied and installed by The Architectural Roofing Company, was the perfect choice of material for this home, given the coastal backdrop and harsh weather exposure. The darker powder-coated aluminium, Pe2 Cassette Cladding, adds to the modern yet hard-wearing look.
Redcliffs Hosue photographed by Sarah Rowlands
Designastyle provided wood flooring for the kitchen, dining and living areas, and tiles for the bathrooms, entrance and laundry. In the entry, the Italian-made tiles are Evoque in Carbon with a sophisticated natural stone look.
Redcliffs House by Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects Christchurch studio
Siberian Larch vertical shiplap boards, supplied by Rosenfeld Kidson, blend beautifully into this coastal home. Selected soffit and internal linings were also made from band sawn and sanded Siberian Larch.
Redcliffs House Christchurch stair by Herriot Melhuish ONeill Architects
Redcliffs House Christchurch front entrance HMOA