Wood works for lofty lifestyle

By Graham Hepburn

40 DRAKE ST, FREEMANS BAY
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3
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SIZE: Land 411sq m, apartment 213sq m (plus 48sq m balcony), total building area 968sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Interest expected upwards of $4 million. Annual passing rent for commercial space is $169,670 plus GST. Tender closes 4pm August 13 (unless sold prior).
INSPECT: By appointment only.
ON THE WEB: bayleys.co.nz/1670067
SCHOOL ZONES: Freemans Bay School, Ponsonby Intermediate, Auckland Girls’ Grammar.
CONTACT: Karen Spires, ph 027 273 8220; John Algie, 021 772 932; Brendan Graves, 021 164 7422.
40 Drake Street, Freemans Bay. Photo / Ted Baghurst
40 Drake Street, Freemans Bay. Photo / Ted Baghurst

When Noel Bland bought the two-storey commercial premises opposite Victoria Park Market 12 years ago, his thoughts turned to building an apartment on top of it.

He imagined it would be ideal for him and wife Faye to live and work centrally, enjoying a penthouse lifestyle with their meat-exporting business operating below.

Noel asked architect Marshall Cook if the idea would be feasible and if he could design an apartment for them atop the 1920s brick building.

"I'd been out to lunch with him a few times and he was a good lunch man, so I thought he would be a good architect," says Noel.

Faye's approach was a little more scientific: "I had files of stuff on the work Marshall Cook had done so I was quite familiar with his work. I knew he did a lot of wood to soften the industrial look."

The brief to Cook was for open-plan living, two lounges, three bedrooms and a big outdoor living space. "I gave him a lot of pictures of the sort of thing we liked, but we trusted his vision," says Faye.

Part of that vision can be seen from the street in the raking roofline that rises from the western side of the zinc-clad building where there are two bedrooms, creating a central, double-height living space before culminating in a mezzanine bedroom and lounge at the eastern end of the building, also a zinc-clad "box".

The overhang of the roof provides covered outdoor space along the northern side of the apartment with views over Victoria Park. Winter sun floods in, heating the concrete floor, but the roofline is designed to shut out summer sun.

Large doors connect the living area with the deck, which is essentially an outdoor room with basalt tiles for flooring. As well as stairs, a lift services both levels of the apartment for security and easy access.

The main floor of the apartment has an industrial feel with exposed steelwork and polished concrete floors, but a variety of wooden features give the space warmth and liveability. Cedar joinery has been used in the external bifold and sliding doors, jarrah cabinetry is prominent in the kitchen, and Tasmanian hoop pine ply panels are in the ceiling.

Frosted glass in a grid pattern around the gas fire allows light in from the southern side of the apartment but conceals unsightly rooftops. Faye worked with the kitchen designers to create a wall of cabinets that, when closed, conceal clutter and act as a piece of furniture.

The kitchen is functional, with pull-out pantries, and has elegant touches such as the slimline Carrara marble slab with negative detailing that makes it seemingly float above the island bench.

Beyond the kitchen is a laundry that opens out to a rooftop washing line.

The two bedrooms off the living space have elegantly fitted-out tiled bathrooms with walk-in showers, and the master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe sharing the view from the deck, which is accessed by a large sliding door.

The deck is open to the north, and cleverly positioned timber louvres provide shading and a glassed-in corner with louvred windows makes for a sheltered outdoor area. Louvred windows have been used throughout for ventilation, and these are a feature of the upstairs north-facing lounge that the Blands use as a TV room but would also make an ideal sunroom.

On this level is a guest bedroom with a tiled en suite and walk-in shower. Glass sliding doors connect the upstairs with the main level, the only separation being a glass balustrade. Slimline roller blinds provide privacy when needed.

The design is all about creating a social setting with light and space. Noel says the home is ideal for entertaining. "It's great for parties because you can open it all up and people can move around easily."

The Blands are selling the whole building -- commercial spaces and apartment -- and are looking to buy a smaller, probably single-level home around the St Marys Bay-Ponsonby area.

- NZ Herald

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