Miramar home up for top prize in architecture

Miramar home up for top prize in architecture

The private, insular courtyard of award-winning home 'Miramar House'. PHOTO: MARY GAUDIN

A modest mid-budget Miramar home is now in the running to win New Zealand’s top housing architecture award national prize.

After winning the Home magazine national prize for Best City Home in March, ‘Miramar House’ has taken out another award, this time a picking up one of eight nods in the housing category of the Wellington Local Architecture Awards, overseen by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA).

The awards were announced at the banquet hall at Parliament last week.

The local award places the house in the running for top gong – the New Zealand Architecture Award in Housing – later this year.

The house, on the east side of Miramar, was built around a central private courtyard in location cloistered by many neighbouring properties and was designed by Wellington architect Andrew Sexton.

Sexton said the challenge of building the house was creating a private retreat for his clients while still opening the home up to sun, light, and sheltered outdoor space.

“What I love most is the atmosphere created, and how a modest home can delight through the thoughtful use of light, material and volume.

He said the firm was “delighted” that the home had been recognised, but more satisfaction came from the fact that that clients loved their home.

The clients, Jess and Kris Sowersby, share their home with a young daughter and their dog.

Jess said that it was “pretty great” that their house was an award winner, but that it was a “cherry on top of a special experience”.

“Andrew was recommended to us by a family member who works in the industry. We had a great time working with him and Hannah Griffin. They were easy going but professional.”

Kris founded typography firm Klim Type Foundry in 2005, with Jess joining in 2016 to manage marketing and sales for the business. Kris designs the typefaces and is the company director. He said it helped inform the way he and Jess worked with Sexton.

“I’m usually on the other side of the client/designer relationship. So, as the client I wanted to treat Andrew and Hannah as I’d like to be treated, by giving them clear communication and trust.”

The couple were not willing to disclose their budget, but it was described as “small” by Sexton. The CV is $740,000.

The kitchen of award-winning home ‘Miramar House’. PHOTO: MARY GAUDIN

The judges said Miramar House demonstrated ‘restraint and thoughtfulness’ by both client and architect, and that it was “so well attuned to its place” that it seems to have been there for years, despite having been built in 2016.

Wellington architect Sally Ogle led a panel of four, who visited all 40 shortlisted buildings in the region, selecting winners in each category, which included houses and also commercial projects.

Ogle: “The high standard of educational and commercial work was especially notable, as were the ways in which architects have considered wider urban connections, and how new centres of learning and large precincts can plug into the city.”

Exterior of award-winning home, ‘Miramar House’. PHOTO: MARY GAUDIN

“The interior play of light, the rhythm created by timber and fenestration… reveal an exceptional sensitivity to the lifestyles of the occupants and the vagaries of Wellington’s environment,” the judges’ comments said.

Miramar House will be up against tough competition this year, with rival Kawakawa House in Auckland beating it earlier this year for Home Magazine’s supreme award.

Local Architecture Awards honour the best new architecture in each of the institute’s eight regions. Winners at this level become finalists for awards at a national level, so this award has opened the door for a New Zealand Architecture Award in the housing category in the New Zealand Architecture Awards. Those are likely to be held in November.


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Article by Felix Desmarais

About Author I like politics, dogs and crime fiction. Not necessarily in that order. Beat: Miramar Peninsula. News tips: felix.mje.desmarais@gmail.com Twitter: @felix_desmarais

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Article by Felix Desmarais

About Author I like politics, dogs and crime fiction. Not necessarily in that order. Beat: Miramar Peninsula. News tips: felix.mje.desmarais@gmail.com Twitter: @felix_desmarais

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