Seeming to hover just above the ground is this new house for a couple of real-estate developers near Nelson, New Zealand
Welcoming and low-key, bright and friendly: these are the traits of Feather House, the new home designed by the Irving Smith Architects studio for a couple of versatile real-estate developers in New Zealand. The name chosen for the building highlights its main feature: lightness. Indeed, just like a feather, the house appears as if suspended between the skies and the earth, gently resting on the natural slope of the land, following its contours. Feather House in fact stands in a sunny group of hills above Nelson ‒ a town in the north of the South Island, on Cook Strait ‒ and is permeated by local colors, mood and light.
Feather House is a home blending with its surrounding nature. It converses with this context, not wanting to be separated from it: its interiors are conceived as a continuation of the outdoors, while its living areas have been designed as perfect 'parlors' for bringing together the villa's occupants. The clients in fact requested this type of home to welcome friends and family; one that was rich in open interconnected spaces conveying a strong sense of intimacy, that idea of 'feeling at home' specific to places conceived and designed with attention to detail and to shifting requirements in privacy levels.
Feather House is made up of a series of interconnected spaces that feature broad expanses of glass opening onto the town and the luxuriant New Zealand vegetation, endowing the edifice with a sense of weightlessness. For this home, the Irving Smith designers opted for simple but stylish finishes, with furniture made by local artisans. The focus on the textures of wood ‒ used for the flooring, the walls and various furnishings ‒ and exposed concrete is paired with the airiness of glass, which is present in the many transparent surfaces.
A long passageway crosses the entire plan of the home, starting from the large open space joining the kitchen to the sizable outdoor terrace. There are two bedrooms but, as might be guessed from the underlying concept, the internal partition walls could easily be moved in future "because buildings, like life, are never finite", the architects explained. And Feather House, with its apparent weightlessness, indeed conveys the idea of something that is changeable yet resilient, and that will confidently keep pace with society and the surrounding environment as time goes by.
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Architect: Irving Smith Architects
Area: 132 m²
Client: Jane and Simon Murray, Simon Murray Builders
Photography by Patrick Reynolds, courtesy of the author and Irving Smith Architects