Folsom house, Gordons Bay


Madeleine Blanchfield
Architect


2013

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Madeleine Blanchfield
Architect

Bellevarde run the smoothest building operation I have seen. At first it seemed too good to be true—a builder whose goal is to not only keep the client happy but also the architect! 

As a sole practitioner, to find a builder who not only was trustworthy, but also was interested in working with me towards the same goal, was a great opportunity. Through constructive processes I was able to draw on the breadth of experience and skill that Bellevarde has, and operate with them as a team.

I found they are passionate about architecture. They are the gentlemen of the business, set on delivering flawless buildings with happy clients, not only at the end but all the way through the process. Their methods are transparent, inclusive and productive. All their energies are directed into the project in a positive way. 

Bellevarde take full responsibility for the quality and performance of the building works and manage the budget, but do not expect the architect to relinquish any control. Knowing that the financial and management sides of the project are in good hands frees the architect’s time for design and client service. 

The quality of Bellevarde’s work is well-recognised, but I was not prepared for how different it would be to work with them. It is not usual to find a builder who not only has the mantra ‘anything can be done’, but also actually wants to help you do it.

Their perfectionism was quite astonishing. Some details that I would not even have ‘defected’ were rectified at the builder’s expense. 

Rather than constantly looking over my shoulder, working with Bellevarde I felt reassured that they had my back.  

It was gratifying that the house also won a 2012 Master Builders Award for Excellence in Housing.

The judges said ‘This entry was constructed on a difficult site and has been finished perfectly.  A most worthy winner.’

The Folsom house has an excellent location overlooking Gordons Bay.

The brief was to create a home for a young family, on a site with a superb water frontage. The prime challenges were the steepness of the site and to find a balance between privacy and the spectacular views.

From the western, street side, the house reads as single-storey, set in a generous garden. 

The four-metre-high glazed front door opens to deliver a dramatic view of Gordons Bay—and reveals that the house is cantilevered out of the hill to the east, with three-storey-high concrete blade walls framing the main staircase and forming the spine of the house. A series of private spaces are revealed on various levels.

Because there are no perimeter columns, the views are unobstructed.

The aesthetic reflects that of the owners, elegant and unpretentious. It is a house for living and finding pleasure in simple things—the qualities of light, of volumes and materials. Garden and furniture layouts were integral to the design, with carefully positioned fireplaces and trees contributing to the mood and livability of the house.