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Ultra Modern Residence For Two in New Zealand

By Eric Meunier


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Patterson Associates sent us photos of the amazing Mai Mai House project.

Located in Auckland, New Zealand, and completed in 2008, this lovely two bedroom two bathroom residence was designed for a couple.

The white street facade is particularly impressive, with no windows and no discernible doors.

This property was nominated as one of the 16 best private homes built between 2007-2008.

The Mai Mai House by Pattersons Architects:

“Mai Mai is a story of love.

This is a private house. It seeks to create a union which reconciles seemingly contrary identities, personalities and problems. In this house these two lovers – the hunter and the bird, as we have grown to call them – make sense of the elements that define them as individuals, and the chemistry that draws them together as a couple.

A key to unlocking the Mai Mai is in the word ‘duality’. The house uses a duality of function and a duality of meaning to reconcile paradoxical ideas of concealment and display, ambush and retreat, challenge and reconciliation.

The name of the house has more than one interpretation. For New Zealand Maori, ‘Mai’ can mean clothing, but it can also signify the verb ‘to bring towards me’. ‘Mai Mai’ is the New Zealand name for the makeshift blinds in which duck hunters ambush their prey.

Mai Mai the house offers a hide too. The building’s façade is a camouflage, a cipher which tells the story of its occupants. A Kahu Huruhuru – the Maori name for a traditional and highly-prized feathered cloak which was a signature of beauty and rank(1) – creates by day a ‘screen’ of privacy from the world outside and by night a ‘screen’ on which images are projected publicly.

The facade offers yet more secrets – it opens unexpectedly as entry to the living environment and to reveal a two-level vertical car stacker. Behind the facade a concealed western courtyard attracts the warmth of late afternoon sun.

Inside, the Mai Mai is both nest and hide. The living area forms a snug raised above the main floor level – she calls this her ‘perch’, while he calls it his ‘vantage’. This lanai floats between the city and a gallery: the hunter and the bird are united in their love of art.

From the gallery, a crafted stair descends into a cinema, which offers retreat and concealment from the open spaces above and around. Here, blind doors open to bedrooms, bathrooms and storage. Concealed behind its invisible door the owners suite lies in the centre of a private hedged garden.

Privacy and engagement, concealment and display, identity and belonging. From these tensions, the Mai Mai creates harmony, in a shared sense of place. From paradox, emerges meaning. A true love story.

(1) Brian Brake – (Reed 1994). Te Aho Tapu”

Photos by: Patrick Reynolds and Simon Devitt

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About Eric Meunier

Currently the Owner and Chief Executive of HODYO Design, Eric Meunier's expertise in the design industry spreads over 20 years. He was the driving force behind HomeDSGN's early success, founding this website in 2011. Today, he loves to channel his passion for design into remodeling houses and transforming interior spaces with his keen eye for detail and architectural finesse. Learn more about HomeDSGN's Editorial Process.

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