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Home and Building, Volume 18 Number 1 (June 1955)

a house at cecil road wadestown Wellington

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a house at cecil road wadestown Wellington

Architect: C. J. Fearnley, A.N.Z.I.A. Owners: Mr. & Mrs. F. N. Stace

The Site

Even with Wellington conditions in mind this could be considered a difficult site, but one not without advantages. The narrow road frontage with its sleep slope down to some fine trees and a flat area where the owner wanted a tennis court, the sun and pleasant view from the upper slope near the road — all these factors fixed the position of the house.

The Problem

A four bedroom house with an open and flexible living area, with a study guest room, as much sun and view as possible from the living room, and a reasonable access to the tennis court. Some form of heating was required and the kitchen and laundry space were to be combined.

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Main Floor

Main Floor

Lower Floor

Lower Floor

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The Solution

The living-dining area was placed on the upper floor to take advantage of the view and sun. The kitchen was provided with a servery with glass doors above bench level to increase the pleasant outlook from the working area. Shower, bath and W.C. are provided on the lower floor with a W.C. and basin on the main floor off the hall.

The owners' bedroom has outside access with steps down towards the tennis court, and Bedroom 2 is used during the day as the children's playroom. An automatic oil fired furnace has the grille in the floor of this room, but the thermostat is placed in the living room. From Bedroom 3 there is a door into the basement with convenient access to an outside door. Bedroom 4 has outside access close to the front door but this was planned for possible use by the owner's father who would thus have a place of retreat from the family when necessary.


All bedrooms have built-in wardrobes and an existing compactum was built into the main bedroom between the wardrobes. Built-in bunks in Bedroom 2 have behind them a softboard panel, painted "blackboard green," for pinning up pictures.

A built-in cupboard is provided in the Living room with bookshelves under the window sill and also in the study a bookcase is provided along one wall from floor to ceiling. Heat is supplied by a fully automatic oil fired furnace, installed in the basement with the flue carried up unconcealed through the Living room. The kitchen laundry equipment includes a washing machine with its dishwashing attachment stored under the tub, a 40-gallon hot water cylinder in the corner with an auxiliary chip heater placed under it. As previously mentioned the servery has glass sliding doors which also provide an appropriate decoration to the dining room as coloured pottery is kept on these shelves. The sink bench is steel, other bench surfaces in the kitchen being covered with lino. A sliding door is provided between kitchen and hall to save encroaching on space.

Basement walls are of concrete, left rough from the boxing and finished with cement paint. The main frame is standard construction with rough sawn oiled boarding on the exterior with white trim. The roof has a pitch of 18" in the width of the house, with a flat roof over Bedroom 4, the pitch of the roof forming the ceiling and giving more feeling of space in the living areas. The roof is covered with fabric and gutters are formed in the depth of the joists. Windows are either

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4' 0" x 3' 0" top hung casements or horizontally sliding on a patent track. The top hung windows are very suitable for Wellington's climate allowing ventilation in wet weather, and the 4ft. sliding sashes allow large uninterrupted views and provide good ventilation in summer. In every case where sliding windows are used there are alternative openings so that if the sliding windows face a prevailing wind adequate ventilation can be obtained.

Wooden floors in kitchen, bathroom, etc. lino covered, cork tiles in Bedroom 2, Hong Kong matting in Living room. Fibrous plaster to walls and ceilings is covered mostly with wallpaper on walls with ceilings painted. Where the right colour was not available in wallpaper, paint was used. In the hall and staircase a yellow and white Regency striped paper was hung vertically, the owner and Architect defeating by one vote a motion by Mrs. Stace to hang it horizontally. In the Living room plain areas of light colours with one wall a grey paper striped with white contrasted with the strongly patterned curtain between Living and Dining rooms. The heater flue 10" diameter passes through the Living room and is painted Venetian Red. Doors to the upper floor were bleached and clear lacquered, other woodwork being painted. Pelmets were dispensed with, aluminium curtain track being screwed to the wall above the architraves of all windows.

In addition to being a hard site to plan for and build on, it was almost impossible for the photographer, but the one exterior shot shows the large window openings to the North elevation and also shows the top hung windows open for ventilation on the West side. The interior views show the Living Dining area and indicate the spacious effect that can be gained. Incidentally, there is no feeling that the room lacks a "focal point" through not having a fireplace; with the whole room at an even temperature is is much easier for groups to sit and argue round a low table or to split up into smaller groups each riding their own particular hobby horse or to circulate easily without feeling that the early arrivals had usurped the ringside seats round the fire.