“I do truly believe in the importance of design – we sometimes underestimate the power of it,” says Max Capocaccia of MC Architecture Studio.
Fortunately, the judges at the 2017 World Architecture News Awards thoroughly understood the power of Max’s Black Door House’s design, awarding it first prize in the ‘Best Modern Method of Construction’ category, with the comment it “stands as an object of art overlooking the ocean”.
For Max, Black Door House was a favourite project long before it won an international award. It was christened when the original door was reshaped to incorporate the surrounding wall into its form. The door is of course black and towers at 2.9m tall, but it sits within a wall that echoes its geometric design. The curved entrance mirrors the sweep of Pegasus Bay from Whitewash Heads to Amberly Beach. Like an aeroplane wing, its upswept roof provides lift and thrust to the house, relating it to surrounding hills and valleys, reflecting the mountains across the bay and plains.
Constructed with a combination of timber frame, complex steel structure, and Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) supplied by MagRoc, the SIP system is a key component of the extraordinary thermal performance of the house. Rather than simply installing insulation between gaps in the framing leaving up to 20 percent of the walls and roof uninsulated, the SIP system insulates and clads the entirety of each wall.
MagRoc SIP homes have been tested down to 0.51 air changes per hour, in contrast to the standard 4.5 to 19 air changes per hour. The magnesium oxide internal panels provide additional thermal mass, absorbing excess heat during warmer times and releasing that heat when the ambient air temperature drops, maintaining more consistent internal temperatures.
The entrance of Black Door House is Max’s favourite, high ceilinged, the view unfolds just a few steps into the house. Glassforce created the glass and balustrade systems. A close relationship with MC Architecture is due to mutual unique design abilities, which found their first iteration in a loft home in Lyttelton where they designed, engineered, manufactured and installed a timber and glass sound reducing feature window that occupies the front wall.
Glassforce invented, patented, and trademarked a stunning glass system called Davantech, which requires zero mechanical fixing. Seismically superior, there is no point load so it is safe and easy to install. Both MC Architecture and Glassforce have offices in Italy, and together introduced the technologies invented in Christchurch. They are acclaimed there, as well as in Australia, America and the rest of Europe.
When choosing Warmth.nz underfloor heating, both the architect and builder knew the client would be thrilled, not only now, but well into the future and there is special satisfaction for the company knowing it had not relied on an expensive system to win the award.
Warmth.nz advises anyone building a new home that they can put luxurious underfloor heating in it for only $100 per square metre. The economical installation cost plus the future ability to extend or add to the system means the home is set up for future additions and the homeowner will live in the ultimate in luxury warmth every winter.
The company provides exemplar systems with low running costs for luxurious home heating right from the outset through the installation of in-floor piping when the foundations are poured. Once installed, the benefits are reaped with the total capital and running cost.
While Max’s design stood out amongst the world’s best, he modestly assumed he wouldn’t win, sending a London-based colleague to the Gala Ceremony in London in his place. Max’s team replicates his approach: they must be “people who are open to the challenge of pushing boundaries but at the same time keep their feet on the ground”.
New technologies are a passion, but the aptitude for variety and the ability to accomplish a simple or traditional request is central to the practice.