There is much talk in Auckland at present about land supply and the housing shortage. If everyone took a leaf out of Liz Sharek’s book, however, these issues would quickly resolve themselves.
The UK-born artist (check out her work here) has lived in Westmere for the last eleven years in a home she and award-winning architect Andrew Lister designed back in 2001. Lister’s job, alongside Warren Adolph of Warren & Adolph Construction, was to build a house that fitted Liz’s character while simultaneously fitting into a 15 metre wide section. No mean feat.
Some glass rabbits out and about at Auckland Domain. Liz’s art ranges from the stunningly beautiful to the sublimely quirky.
And yet it works perfectly. The long, narrow 200 square metre house-slash-glass studio still feels incredibly roomy thanks to a combination of open plan living, a large deck, a skylight in the bathroom and bifold windows that open up onto the garden. For his work Lister received a New Zealand Architecture Award in 2003, and the house itself has graced the pages of many a magazine.
Liz has put the 12 year old house up for sale and Open2view were privileged to shoot the photographs. I asked Liz if she was feeling any sense of loss now she was moving on.
“Oh! Yes!” was her adamant response. “This is a pretty special place and a great community. But I’m ready for a new adventure and something has to give!”
A recent House & Garden article talked of Liz’s plan to one day buy some land in Matakana and open her own ‘Huttenpalast’. Liz stayed at one in Berlin last year; she described it as “an indoors “glamping” [glamour camping] experience with caravans and huts as designer sleeping quarters all inside a vacuum cleaner factory.”
So is her dream about to come to fruition? Maybe by next summer, she says. “[There’s] no old vacuum cleaner factories in Matakana but part of the plan is to develop a homestay/B&B experience loosely based on this kind of thing which, I think, would go down a treat in New Zealand with our love of retro caravans and camping.” In the meantime Liz is looking forward to experiencing “some country living with more space to develop a garden, grow veggies, that kind of thing.”
Making the most of space has clearly not been an issue for Liz in the past, as her unique house demonstrates. Liz says she could not have done it without Andrew Lister’s skills.
“It was his vision and interpretation of my brief which created this home and which changed very little over the build period. The way the property sits on this smallish inner city section and its use of the “borrowed landscape” to give visual space and light is genius.”
“Andrew has an exceptional eye for detail and the innovative use of materials and textures on the exterior; his use of glass and reflective surfaces throughout the house’s interior lends a lightness and complexity to the spaces and forms of the house.
“I just had the fun stuff to do like choosing the tapware and lighting!”
In their award citation, the NZIA described the house as “an extraordinary synthesis in which architect and client seem to have drawn more from the other than each expected, creating an engaging whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”
She was so pleased with his work that Liz has enlisted him to design her new house. Like her old place, the Matakana home will reflect her offbeat artistic style.
“It sits beautifully on the land but has a very similar aesthetic,” she says. It will feature floor to ceiling glass windows looking down the valley in quite an austere shell, softened by the use of cedar cladding. “And as if to demonstrate her aptitude for utilising space, she adds that “The studio space/glamping spot is under the house as a self-contained unit.”
Her award-winning Westmere spot is available right now. Check out our other photos, and floor plans, on the Open2view website; if you’d like to see it in person there are open homes this Saturday and Sunday from 12-12.30pm. (UPDATE: There will be another open home on Sunday 28 April at 12pm) (UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: no there won’t – it’s been sold!)
Get in quick – it is a stunning, yet very practical, work of art.