The renovation of an old home can be a daunting prospect when trying to meld original elements with what people expect from their homes in today’s modern world.  Whether the starting point is a villa, bungalow or a workers cottage in Ponsonby – it takes insight and flair to pull it off successfully. 

Jonathon Smith, Director of Matter Architects talks about the renovation of ‘Saw Tooth Villa’ in John Street, Ponsonby,  what the client wanted and how they successfully blended the original style of this small 1930s workers cottage with a practical, modern addition which utilises Firth HotBloc® as a feature wall for the log burner and a lovely natural concrete polished floor. 

“We were contacted by the home owners when they literally walked in off the street while we were working in the area,” says Jonathon.  “They had been out of Auckland for a number of years and had recently returned to the cottage which they have owned for about 30 years.”



“When looking for an appropriate method to extend the home, referencing the history of the area and the house made sense. So rather than trying to extrude the existing form and materials to cover the extension, we decided to celebrate the change and embrace a saw toothed roof form using exposed steel framing and concrete floors…reminiscent of factories of the time.” 

The rear of the house with its lean-to was where the majority of the work was done. The brief involved extending the back of the house to create more open living spaces that related to the rear yard and to maximise the views over the fields of St Paul’s College. 

“The extension is essentially open plan but recognises the central hallway with rooms either side,” explains Jonathon.  “The back end of the extension is staggered creating outdoor ‘deck rooms’ which is continued in the rear yard where a central path leads right to the back fence with grass ‘rooms’ on either side.” 

“Concrete seemed to be a very natural material to select because of the history of the area and the old factories that used be part of Ponsonby,” says Jonathon. 

The extension features a fantastic Firth HotBloc® wall which has two functions in the addition; a feature wall for the family room and fire surround for the log burning fire. “We didn't have any discussions re colours for the floor or blocks we just wanted a natural concrete floor and the honed grey block – just how it comes.” 

With a clever use of materials the transformation of this workers cottage from dark and dingy to open and bright is complete – proof old and new can work well together.  



HotBloc® - structural and insulated 

Firth HotBloc® provides all the structural benefits of a normal masonry block with the added advantage of built-in insulation. Building with HotBloc® removes the need for additional insulation - providing the added design flexibility of a solid plastered finish both inside and out. 

Architect:                                  Matter Architects

Location:                                   Ponsonby, Auckland

Product:                                    Firth HotBloc® and Certified Concrete®