The Mantell name is synonymous with quality and Jane Chabert carries this family legacy through into her home that is encapsulated within the walls of the iconic Endeans Building in the hub of Auckland City, New Zealand. She has not simply reproduced the high standards we come to expect but due to her relentless research and belief in her own vision, has established in her own right a new level of excellence that will stand the test of time.
Driving influences in Jane’s choices include her own maternal background and Paola Navone’s industrial styled Paris apartment. Jane stresses the importance of choosing your architect and tradies and even more importantly “allow plenty of time to do your research!” So armed with her strong vision and book of well researched ideas, Tim Dorrington at Dorrington Atcheson Architects in Auckland worked with Jane to create for her and her two daughters, as she puts it, “our home which is an apartment.”
Tim needed to technically and aesthetically accommodate Jane’s vision of a family oriented home including 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, tv room, and open dining/lounge all within a mere 109sqm footprint. His design perspective derived from the hustle and bustle of the external environment focussed his attention on providing a sense of calm within. Inserting a black box into the fixed empty space, by its mere presence, provided the natural occurrence of “left over” areas as a consequence of that addition.
He clarifies that “the design works at its strongest as a black box within the larger white space, plus the black spine of the kitchen. These in essence are the entire planning mechanisms in the house and define all of the interior spaces.”
Factoring in the comings and goings of an extremely busy working mum with two children in what some would consider challenging proportions, Tim advises to “use all the available space. If you have height use it.” By considering the floor levels and stud heights and maximising usage of the available high stud to step up underfoot, usable and roomy areas were exposed below. Space and efficiency was the driver with the smallest details under the microscope.
The initial challenge of limited floor footage was overcome by the clever use of space. “Think outside the normal and be creative in the solution” writes Tim. Two well-positioned boxes are the predominant underlying structure. Within these the final construct dedicates 2 bedrooms to the girls with one of the beds raised creating Jane’s ensuite below.
All of this is within the first large box and partnered by the second box staging the kitchen and corridor leading to the family bathroom. The use of simple materials stimulated solutions like incorporating thick T&G for raised floors bringing them together with the structure and the ceiling all within 65mm and in effect allowing the overall space to work as cleanly as possible.
Although both had strong ideas, this was a collaborative relationship. Keeping one of the girl’s bedrooms as an open mezzanine may have seemed a compromise at the time but from what I see is a triumph in modern light flooded living, giving me cause to think of a funky New York loft and stepping up the kitchen as a solution to plumbing requirements, ends up further defining this active family hub within the open living area and is a genuine fit.
Jane had fallen in love with the hot rolled steel within the Paris apartment. A similar material was used for her own kitchen cladding and is stunning. The colours of dark grey overlapped by the blue heat cut line was always going to be a deal breaker and offset by white walls, you can see why.
The patina mirror glass with a breath of antique, blends naturally within the internal environment of a mixed and simple materials palette including raw steel exposed conduits. The picture my eyes cannot get enough of is Jane’s en-suite. The spectacular colour she created by using 3 different greens/turquoise generates an intimate extravagant haven. I love it!
Jane remembers people saying, “you don’t need a TV room, just make the bedrooms bigger” but keeping to her own strong vision of the overall space the well-meaning advice was put aside and without compromise the girls are free to have friends over to watch a movie in the TV room while at the same time, aside old stable doors, the long white couch is a pleasant retreat for Jane and her friends talking over a glass of wine.
The needs of all here are met effortlessly. She tells me that “I am so pleased that I didn’t listen and stuck to what was important to me.” So am I, Jane.
WRITTEN BY Penelope Hall
IMAGES Emma-Jane Hetherington
ARCHITECT Dorrington Atcheson Architects