Claude's Cocker Townhouses in Freeman's Bay have featured here before (here and perhaps most memorably here, when architect Ken Crosson revealed the they remind him "of the main character in Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart" looking out and being energised by the city's skyline) -- and if you're keen you can still see Ray White's pics of # 3 online here).
Now for sale is townhouse #4: the townhouse in the southwest quadrant. The one with the tower!
Claude's planning diagram indicates the basic site layout of the four attached houses, the central driveway looking down the vertiginous Gunston St towards the city's towers, with a ring of protective enclosure to each unit opening up to private open space beyond. An exercise in enclosure and openness -- and as always, Claude's entrances invite you through from darkness towards the light.
There is a little more enclosure in this particular house than there was in 1973 when it was born. And a few more mirrors and "etched glass" than Claude would countenance (his denunciations of architects desecrating the spaces he'd designed with their mirrors could, and did, consume whole lectures). The online Megson Guide describes the struggle that gave these beauties birth:
Originally built as an investment property for Bill Cocker (a lawyer turned painter) and his sister Finola - who now occupy two of the four units - the building took four years to complete and involved enormous wrangling with neighbours and the council. Riffing on the forms of nearby villas and hinting at Mediterranean hilltowns, this building is a complex composition of prismatic forms in white weatherboards with shingle roofs, overlaid with filigreed timber balconies. The living spaces of each unit open onto a private courtyard garden. Bedrooms are located on a floor above, and the roof-level turrets - accessed via trap doors - house small studies with panoramic views over the city and harbour. [See New Zealand Architect no.6, 1977, and Home & Entertaining Aug/Sept, 2002.]Giles Reid's masterful Megson monograph features these townhouses as one of Megson's early masterpieces, writing that (as with every Megson home, "each of Megson’s rooms and every ritual contained in them was designed around precisely dimensioned furniture settings":
The building is the product of clients wanting both a degree of retreat from the city and to give back to the area. It freely converses with the language of its neighbouring villas and yet also asserts its own modernity.
The townhouses’ construction is extraordinarily intricate: white painted weatherboards, timber doors and projecting balconies, slate roofs and metal gargoyles. There is even a watch tower, accessed through a smuggler’s hatch after a vertical climb. It gives one of the best views of the city’s skyline...