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Roger Walker’s ‘Britten House’ needs a major makeover – who’s up for it? - Crunchy Livin Mama Style
 

Roger Walker’s ‘Britten House’ needs a major makeover – who’s up for it?

LOWE & CO The Britten House in Karaka Bays, Wellington, designed by architect Roger Walker in 1973 has been listed for sale, but it needs a full restoration. One of the most controversial properties in Wellington when it was built in 1973, the Modernist house architect Roger Walker designed for […]

The Britten House in Karaka Bays, Wellington, designed by architect Roger Walker in 1973 has been listed for sale, but it needs a full restoration.

LOWE & CO

The Britten House in Karaka Bays, Wellington, designed by architect Roger Walker in 1973 has been listed for sale, but it needs a full restoration.

One of the most controversial properties in Wellington when it was built in 1973, the Modernist house architect Roger Walker designed for the late Sir Des Britten and his family is for sale.

But while the colourful, hillside house polarised the public back in the day, it gained credibility when it featured in Phaidon Atlas’s book 20th Century World Architecture, as one of the world’s top 750 architectural triumphs of the 20th century. It won an NZIA national award in 1977.

The house is now in need of a major makeover. The once-bright paint colours have faded and there are chipped tiles and water stains on the walls and floor. Listing agents Craig Lowe and Craig Oliver of Lowe & Co say “make no mistake it needs significant restoration work, but remarkably, it is in almost completely original condition, making it possible to either restore faithfully or make your own”.

Architect Roger Walker featured on Designing Dreams on Prime late last year. He took presenter Matthew Ridge on a tour of his favourite houses, passing on his invaluable knowledge along the way.

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Architect Roger Walker featured on Designing Dreams on Prime late last year. He took presenter Matthew Ridge on a tour of his favourite houses, passing on his invaluable knowledge along the way.

Council records show Britten, a former TV chef, restaurateur and Anglican priest sold the house in 1992, nearly 20 years after it was built, for $250,500. It was last sold in 2017 for $855,000.

READ MORE:
* Designing Dreams: Matthew Ridge’s new show kicks off with architect Roger Walker
* Architect Roger Walker’s controversial 1973 mews project wins NZIA award
* Sir Des Britten – the ‘people’s priest’ – dies

All the signature Roger Walker architectural elements are there – the multilevel house comprises a collection of linked pods that resemble a small village stepping up the hill. Large round windows, smaller porthole windows, exposed timber beams, pointy roofs and multiple skylights are all reminiscent of the architect’s work.

The house comprises a collection of linked pods or rooms that step up the steep hillside.

LOWE & CO

The house comprises a collection of linked pods or rooms that step up the steep hillside.

Signature Roger Walker features include the multi-level design, large round windows and exposed beams.

LOWE & CO

Signature Roger Walker features include the multi-level design, large round windows and exposed beams.

Each room has windows positioned to either maximise a slice of the harbour or bush view, or open it up entirely. There is even a lookout tower.

There are four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a variety of living spaces.

‘They used explosives to blow out the hillside’

Lowe describes the garaging with underground staircase as “an amazing feat of engineering” for the 1970s. The agent, who knows Britten’s daughter, says there is a story the family likes to tell about the day they excavated the garage – cowboy style.

This pod cantilevers out from the house to provide a view on three sides.

LOWE & CO

This pod cantilevers out from the house to provide a view on three sides.

“They used explosives to blow out the hillside, and soil and rock rained down on all the neighbours’ houses. They got into quite a bit of trouble. You wouldn’t get away with that today.”

Lowe says although the property has only been listed for two days, he has had a lot of enquiries. “It will likely go to somebody who loves this architectural style. It is almost completely original and it’s rare to get a near-50-year-old house that hasn’t been mucked around with. How often do you get the opportunity to restore the original, or someone could put their own stamp on it.”

Buyer enquiry over $995,000 is invited, with the price reflecting the as yet untapped “potential”. The agency points out the RV is $1,580,000, with the land making up $1,300,000 of that value.

Windows are positioned to frames slices of the view, or an entire expanse of sea.

LOWE & CO

Windows are positioned to frames slices of the view, or an entire expanse of sea.

The interior features much of the original fitout.

LOWE & CO

The interior features much of the original fitout.

There are four bedrooms, with plenty of natural light flooding the interior through glazed walls, skylights and porthole windows.

LOWE & CO

There are four bedrooms, with plenty of natural light flooding the interior through glazed walls, skylights and porthole windows.

The original tiles also feature in the bathrooms.

LOWE & CO

The original tiles also feature in the bathrooms.

Garages are built into the hillside - there is also an internal staircase.

LOWE & CO

Garages are built into the hillside – there is also an internal staircase.

Stuff

This 1970s house designed by the late Sir Ian Athfield steps up the hill like a small village, maximising a great view.

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