Wednesday, July 04, 2018

The Wong House, 1965-67

Considered by a turn-of-the-century roundup in Home and Building Entertaining magazine to be among "The 50 Hottest [NZ] Homes of the Century" -- Megson would have been incensed to have featured down at 37 rather than straight in at number 1! -- the Wong House gave Claude his first NZIA Bronze Medal in 1969. That jury cited the creative weaving and interplay of space, which still remains.

What doesn't remain is some of the actual spaces, nor the original sculpture and stained glass, or timber weatherboards and timber joinery-- all long removed, or replaced with less sensorially delightful alternatives. Like smearing blancmange over beauty.

But that makes it no less desirable internally, nor in how it still so casually opens up the interior to its surroundings.

As the handy Megson guide describes it:
Cascading down a steeply sloping site, every room is expressed as an independent volume clad in dark-stained cedar weatherboards, the resulting composition a masterly interplay of material, line and volume.
Some of the interplay is still there, and the mastery can still at least be detected -- and in the right hands could be resurrected ...

There are open homes at the house on Saturdays and Sundays until sold (by 27 July, says the hopeful agent).

This is a fearfully difficult house to even see from the street, let alone explore. And since it is being marketed as a "create your individual home on (or over) its bones" basis, if you ever did want to see why it won for Megson an early-career Gold Medal, then these pictures and those few open homes may be your only chance.

Get along!

[Pictures from TradeMe, Ray White, Homes To Love, and the Digital Megson Guide]

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Enduring Architecture Award

Very happy to say that last night Claude Megson's Green House, in Glenfield, won an Enduring Architecture Award at the NZIA awards dinner. The judges said "to walk into the sculptural house is like stepping into a Mondrian painting."

Nice to see Megson's work being recognised, and his memory being kept alive.

NB: I posted about the Green house a couple of years ago, when it went on the market. By all accounts, the new owners' remodelling is a great success, and I'd love to hear more!

Monday, November 13, 2017

And just in time for Christmas ...

The November 2nd issue of Paperboy magazine gives eight whole pages to Claude Megson Counter Constructions, the first ever book on the work of this important but neglected New Zealand architect. 

The shorter online version of the article is here, and asks: How did the brilliant, intricate work of architect Claude Megson disappear from view? Conclusion:
His reassessment is long overdue. 
The beautifully-photographed book is self-published by UK-based architect Giles Reid, with generous backing from the Warren Trust. So here's your reminder that the last recommended posting date from the UK for Christmas delivery is Saturday 9th December.

Your price of NZ$69.95 includes postage and packaging. To purchase, go to: 
I hope you will take a look.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Jopling House, by Claude Megson



Way back in 1965 when a young Claude Megson was still finding his architectural feet, he was commissioned by the Joplings to design a small family home in St Heliers.The NZIA’s Megson Guide takes up the story:

Standing on a sheltered back site on Achilles Point, this house won a NZIA Branch Award in 1965. The building is composed of “units” of timber-framed walls of various lengths with a return at each end. Separated from each other by full-height windows or doors, these repeated elements are deployed to create spaces with different orientations and varying qualities of enclosure and interconnection. The original landscaping included pebble gardens and fishpond which allowed the volumes of the house to “float” above the site.



With several large additions at the front (large garage and a closed-in carport) that small home is now a large home, and the oiled cedar cladding has been painted over, but the small jewel Megson created is still to be found there behind it all, and in almost original form thanks to the current owners, Ruth and Duncan Ormond, who [ as the Herald explains] have done much to bring it back from the state in which they found it.

When Ruth was in her teens, she had the chance to look through a new cedar-clad home designed by Claude Megson and built in 1965.
    This is that house. Built for the Jopling family on a sheltered back section, it was Megson's second residential commission..   
    From time to time Ruth always thought it'd be great to live in that house and some 30 years on from that first viewing, Ruth and Duncan learned the house was for sale….
    The Ormonds have [now] lived here almost half the life-time of this house and they have decided to hand its place in architectural history over to another family.

It goes to auction today – when hopefully another family will be able to enjoy what remains of Megson’s creation, which is a great deal, with many of the features already there in this house that were to become so much a part of his work.


"It's like a Lego home but you can look right through the house from one end to the other wherever you are standing," says Ruth.
    Original features include exposed timber beams, built-in furniture and shelving and the circular moulded door handles.


Those built-in modules allowing a more direct relationship with the garden; the artful yet effortless-feeling negative detailing; the shafts of space through the interlocking parts of the house – open space contrasting dramatically with sheltering -- were to become a Megson trademark, making even the smallest of homes feel large-souled.


That’s how we felt when we visited over the weekend: the house, like our visits to all Megson’s houses, with their simple ingredients so carefuly arranged to create a home for the human soul, never failing to lift our spirits.


Almost impossible to describe in a photograph, the most successful of the spaces in this early home is his double-height dining room with built-in servery and direct garden access, a space whose essence Megson says is celebration, containing in this very early example the seed germ of everything that was to come in his later work. It is a delightful space to be in.



[Pics from PC, Herald, and Ray White Real Estate]

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Architect Claude Megson: A new book!


Page from new book Counter Constructions | Claude Megson. Photo by Jackie Meiring.

I’m excited to reveal here for the first time that there’s a new book about architect Claude Megson that has been lovingly put together by folk as excited about Claude’s architecture as I am—and if I’ve now used the word “excited” three times in this sentence (there you go), that’s because that’s exactly how this news makes me.

It’s a new book, Claude Megson|Counter Constructions, authored by Giles Reid and—as you can see by the pics here—brilliantly photographed by Jackie Meiring. (Order your copy here. I already have!)

Barr House entrance hall, in pages from new book Counter Constructions | Claude Megson.
Photo by Jackie Meiring.

It’s not yet the full appraisal of Claude and his career that his ouevre demands. That will come. What it is does feature wonderfully however, as the blurb says, is “five of his most significant houses, designed in the 1970’s, when his architecture was at its most daring and experimental.” And they are beauties!

1972 Barr House
1973 Norris House
1973 Cocker Townhouses [which won an Enduring Architecture Award just last year]
1974 Rees Townhouses [respectfully upgraded recently]
1977 Bowker House

The book reproduces a number of Megson’s richly detailed drawings, from his sketches through to construction documents.
    The heart of the book is a photo essay by Jackie Meiring, bringing Megson’s best works to life and showing how they are lived in today.
    The [title essay by architect Giles Reid] provides an introduction to Megson’s career, considers his current reputation and analyses the five houses. It explores how Megson:
  1. Organised space through diagonal views and movement
  2. Tied the building to a cultivated landscape
  3. Articulated their external appearance with the ‘house image’
  4. How he invoked ritual as the means to challenge social conventions

Books are on sale from 18 October. On sale only from the book’s website, order your copy now (it would make an ideal Christmas present, wouldn’t it).

Page from new book Counter Constructions | Claude Megson. Photo by Jackie Meiring.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2/64 Hapua St, by Claude Megson



I’ve posted some of its beautiful Megson neighbours before (3/64, 54), and now that it’s on the market you can explore the inside of this smaller one-bedroom Megson townhouse/apartment that can still boast a mostly-original interior.


This is one of those very small places that genius makes appear large (even though the furniture arrangement shown has confused lounge and dining spaces): simple things like viewshafts front to back, borrowed scenery, full-height French doors, exposed rafters, subtle changes in level and height, cunningly-placed storage, all-day sun through the lantern over the central dining space, overlapping and nested spaces etc. All very thoughtfuly done, and very efffective indeed at turning a small jewel into what feels like a large-souled space.


Megson used to talk about a house being something you would sometimes want to wrap around yourself like a cloak, and other times just disappear. This small place fits the bill.


NB: If you’re keen to experience it properly, in the flesh,, there are Open Homes this Saturday and Sunday avo.




[Pics by Ray White Real Estate. Cross-posted at the Claude Megson Blog]


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Barr House, by Claude Megson



Megson’s Barr House, from 3d model

I posted a plan and a few pics a few months back of Claude Megson’s wonderful Barr House, saying at the time that it is so far undeservedly unpublished (soon to change, watch this space). FloorPlansWith his growing sophistication in manipulating space came a floor plan (above) that very few can follow. Until now!

A little 3d modelling of the house, and we have these model views and cutaway floor plans that make the house and its changes in level a little easier to fathom for those who haven’t been lucky enough to visit.

Ground-level floor layout

UpperStorey-FloorLayoutUpper-story floor layout

You can hopefully see much more clearly the beginning of the two-zoned house concept that bore fruit majestically in mature work like the Norris House, but used here at the Barr House much more geometrically.

Street Entrance: Motor Court



Lounge Courtyard




Master Bed