Design Engine Architects Ltd.

Ph. +64 7 849 2935 or +64 21 138 37 39.   Email.   Post. P.O.Box 4237. Hamilton East 3247. NZ


Hamilton Riverhouse


The 650m2 Inner City site is a 5-minute walk to Hamilton Central Business District. The site is gently sloping but elevated with spectacular views of Maungatautari Mountain and the Waikato River. The Client Brief was to design their Dream Family Home with a contemporary modern aesthetic. The total floor area of 327m2 consists of 4 Bedrooms plus Ensuites, Media Room, Study, Covered Decks, Open Plan Living, Dining and Kitchen, Butler's Pantry, Laundry, additional Lounge and Triple Garage, Workshop and Basement Storage.


The Client Brief to Design Engine was to design a Home that was a convenient "lock up and go" on the edge of the CBD. They required a maximising of Waikato River and Maungatautari Mountain Views. The Clients wanted a single level Home with Master Bedroom, Living Room and Deck facing these views. On the same level, a Study, Media Room, Open Plan Living, Dining, West Facing Deck and Kitchen with a separate Pantry. The Clients required this to be a half flight up from a Triple Garage. The Lower Floor Plan was to provide for the 2 Daughters both with Ensuite Bathrooms, River Decks and Private Garden, a Study/Guestroom, Laundry, Storage and Games Room.

The Design is inspired by the organic and fluid nature of the River with its deep, dark, flowing water and scoured riverbanks revealing layers of silt, sand and gravel. These natural characteristics are abstracted in the forms and materials of the design. The heavy and robust base of Black Ash Honed Concrete Blocks with a striated linear Cedar Wall Cladding above recalls the colours and textures of a riverbank with water flowing over it. The vertical counterpoint to this horizontality is the chimney in Split Face Concrete Block towering into the sky. The continuous exterior soffit and interior ceiling in crisp white creates a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor edged by a sharply contrasting black Aluminium Composite Sheet Fascia that cantilevers out towards the River. The in-situ concrete deck that cantilevers 3.5m and a clear glass balustrade reinforce the hovering effect. The Entry is defined by 2 Blades of Precast Concrete, like Cathedrals of Concrete, 1 Blade Wall is 2 Storeys Hight, the other 1 Storey. The 2 Blades are staggered in Plan to create a sense of dynamism, they are connected by a 3m High Reflective Mirror Glass Pivot Door that is meant to be an abstraction of one's reflection in the water. You confront a reflection of yourself while pausing at the Entry, then dive into the House as you pass through the Glass Door. As one enters the Home, the Focus is the Riverview through a Canopy of Trees. The View is Expansive and Framed by 3m High Sliding Doors. The overall intent is meant to be dramatic and provocative.


Project was completed October 2008.

2009 Waikato Bay of Pleanty Architecture Award Winner for Residential Architecture - Houses.


Waikato Bay of Plenty Architecture Award

Category - Residential Architecture - Houses


The inner city home has been built on an elevated site in a contemporary aesthetic, with strong horizontal planes emerging dynamically from an anchoring vertical mass. It makes the most of expansive views across the Waikato River to Hamilton East, and appears to 'float' above mature existing landscaping. The layout is carefully planned for both domestic living and entertaining. Combinations of hard sharp materials, cleverly sofened by textured blockwork applied asymmetrically, add highlights to the textural effects.


Dear Mark and Abi

Karen and I wanted to write to you and express our thanks for your efforts in the design and construction of our new home. After preparing ourselves for what we expected to be a "bumpy ride", we are pleased to look back and reflect on what was an enjoyable and fulfilling experience that has delivered this outstanding result.

We are delighted with our new home and all the features contained within both from an aesthetic and practical viewpoint. We have already received many compliments from friends and visitors that point to "cathedrals of concrete" and the innovative cedar cladding specifically designed for us. ( I hope you follow through on that patent) . It is the creative and innovative thought behind the design which we regard as having the most influence on the final outcome. I recall having to have a leap of faith when some ideas were first tabled but your clear communication helped to alleviate any concerns and we were able to make informed decisions based on your inputs at our regular site meetings. Having good ideas is one thing, but being able to express them in a way in which we were able to understand and appreciate them, helped us immensely.

I understand that Construct are also very pleased with the outcome. Our thanks to you both for the cooperation and teamwork you showed onsite with our main contractor and the engineers, cabinetmakers and various sub trades that are necessary to deliver the result we wanted.

Would we do it all again? Yes we would but would have lever Karen off the property with a crowbar first because she won't be leaving this house willingly!

Kindest regards

Brad and Karen