This is the second house S’Miles designed for his buddy Garth Gould on a sunny spot above Halswell Quarry. The first house, its neighbour, was sold and subsequently messed with quite a bit, but this one is very original (kitchen and family room aside) with lots of good W&M detail. Garth talks about the old days below.
In 1959 I was having an evening meal at the Coffee Pot on New Regent Street with Miles. During the course of the meal I informed Miles that I had decided to build a small house on a section of my property at Halswell because I was ‘sick of living in a town flat without any area of garden’. His large eyebrows shot up to the top of his forehead and I was fixed with what can only described as a baleful stare. ‘Who, might I enquire, is designing this estab- lishment for you?’ he enquired. When I produced with some reluctance a piece of graph paper on which I had inscribed my ideas, he contemplated it for a few seconds, folded it and put it in his pocket. ‘Gould’ he said, ‘I will not have you living in a builder’s bungalow and I will send you a drawing in a week’s time.’The plan duly arrived a few days later, and it was so obviously superior in every respect that I could only agree to proceed. It differed from the normal small bungalows of those days with innovative features like insulated concrete- slab flooring, exposed beams supporting the roof, open areas of ceiling extending to kitchen via glass panelling, exposed concrete-block walls, and doors of vertical wooden strips. When built the effect was of a much larger and airier house than the small bungalow that was the reality.The pleasure which I derived from living in it arose from a combination of practical and aesthetic features: the good insulation arising from the slab and the linings of the walls and roof; the validity of the structure and its materials, which were all visible; and the sheer practicality of the basic design of a minimalist house. Today all this appears quite normal and ordinary, but in 1957 it should be remembered that, due to the war and the Depression, virtually nothing had been built since about 1928, and most of the concepts, particularly relating to the use of concrete, were new.When some years later my wife and I built a larger house on the adjoining site we incorporated the same basic ideas — perhaps the only major improvement being covered ceil- ings which I think give a more pleasing balance to the rooms.