It’s partly an art gallery and partly a home - but is it an art gallery in a house or someone’s residence with an art gallery attached?
Art collector and philanthropist Dame Jenny Gibbs is selling her clifftop Ōrākei place that once displayed works by Colin McCahon and Ralph Hotere with a Phil Price kinetic sculpture as a centrepiece in the garden.
The art collection inside is so valuable and extensive that two ground-level rooms are temperature-controlled art storage vaults in the home designed by the late Dave Mitchell of what was Mitchell Stout.
Garden steps are a folly because they lead to a dead end, internal stairs and walkways are glass bricks and works by some of New Zealand’s leading artists are displayed on three-level walls.
Graham Wall is marketing the Paritai Dr place and said Gibbs was moving to a waterfront apartment in Auckland.
Auckland Council lists the section as 1315sq m, the house at 1000sq m and the valuation as $12.7m.
Last September, the Herald reported how Gibbs escaped charges but was spoken to by police for having had five people over for drinks in her carport during level 4 lockdown. She held three socially distanced meetings in her carport. A police spokesman referred to a graduated response “and the occupant was spoken to at length about the restrictions and why they are in place”.
Wall said the house had been built in 1989/90 and he expected it to sell for above the council valuation.
Dave Mitchell designed the first house for Alan and Jenny Gibbs but by the time he came to design the second, they had accumulated a substantial art collection.
Display became a key issue for the design of the house, arranged around a spectacular top-lit, three-story gallery space, threaded through at various levels by a series of transparent bridges and staircases made of glass, stainless steel and Perspex.
The street facade is relatively sombre, presenting almost as commercial in a subtropical garden. But the water or seaside of the house is more flamboyant, with steep drops down to a shallow winding water feature on the property beside the Paritai Reserve.
Businessman Alan Gibbs has not lived at the home for some years. He established the 400ha Gibbs Farm which overlooks the Kaipara Harbour, is open by appointment and displays sculptures that have mostly been commissioned for the vast landscapes. The Herald has previously reported that the farm includes a designated zoo where exotic animals roam, including giraffes, buffalo, zebra, emu and alpaca.
Over at Ōrākei, architects Mitchell Stout Dodd describe the Paritai Dr place as “a house inside and around a private art gallery”.
Dave Mitchell was cited by Ralph Hotere as one of the best architects to work with because he left artists’ projects to artists’ solutions, the practice says in its citation of his work on Paritai Dr.
Mitchell had a reputation for being sensitive to the opportunities and demands of art within the architect’s sphere, the architects’ website says.
Jane Sutherland of Fox Gallery described his design of the house, “as almost a perfect solution to living within a large collection, which is a special problem that Mitchell has met without compromising the art or making the place look like a public gallery”.
The five-bedroom house, for all its massiveness, was praised for responding to its functional requirements with precision. An apartment on the ground level has its own separate entranceway.
Julian Mitchell, of Mitchell Stout Dodd, said his father has worked on the house with Miriam White, who now lives overseas. Julian Mitchell said he had visited the house recently and thought its design was a “beautifully detailed and brave piece of work.” The place was flooded with light due to windows just beneath the roof, he said.
The house is for sale by tender, closing on November 29.