Malcolm Walker

This solid home in Auckland’s St Mary’s Bay is one of the oldest in Auckland. It is said to have been built by a sea captain, constructed from the bricks he had brought from England as ballast in his ship. Architect Malcolm Walker has extended the house and renovated the existing spaces to bring light and open informality into this heavy, enclosed historical residence.

Designers. Architect: Malcolm Walker Architects
Kitchen Manufacturer: Customtone Kitchens
Materials Benchtop: Concrete and stainless steel/n
Handles: Stainless steel


Concept Design

Malcolm is known for his planning to create spaces that feel comfortable to be in. The sizes, layouts and proportions relate to people and how they dwell in a home. His is an architecture of space and functionality rather than aesthetic cartwheels and inventive new forms.

This is not to say there is a lack of poetry, in this house details like a huge window in the middle of the kitchen bench, or the sunken outdoor space rimmed with seating, highlight how domestic architecture can be subtle, cosy, light and personal without needing to reinvent the wheel.

The whole rear of the ground level was pushed out to create a large living, dining and kitchen space. The kitchen was positioned at a right angle to the living and dining area, alongside the central corridor leading from the front door. Rather than push the kitchen out to be in line with the rest of the living dining space, the kitchen was staggered back slightly hiding more prosaic parts of the kitchen – the pantry, tucked furthest from the living space and the cooking zone, while the social entertaining zone is brought to the centre around the dramatic concrete island.

The original house’s double skin brick construction made the house feel very solid and dark, and the concrete island nods to those characteristics, though it now sits in a light and open space. The placement of the puncture-like square window in the middle of the kitchen, however, relieves the space from feeling too tough or oppressive. Indeed, the detailing of the window where the concrete bench seamlessly becomes the sill, and all the window furniture rolls back completely, amplifies the lightness and tangible connection to the garden outside.

You don’t design kitchens to look good. You design them to work, and then you make them look good.


Developed Design

The client was the one that suggested both the use of stainless steel on the cabinetry and the concrete island to create a tough, industrial aesthetic. While not intended, the bubbled pattern in the concrete makes the island look like marble veining and gives welcome texture against the slick tiles and stainless steel.

“You don’t design kitchens to look good. You design them to work, and then you make them look good,” Malcolm Walker explains. “I think you can get caught up in fashion. People read about the magic triangle, and the special distances, but you really have to read the building, read the people, read how the room relates, there’s a lot more to it. That’s one thing with this house, in her choice of the stainless steel and concrete, it’s good because the house is massive and solid, and so it does ride well with the house.”

There is little cluttering the space: no overhead cabinets, and even the fridge has been tucked into the pantry to maintain the unbroken horizontal lines of the benches. This is a very clever delineation of zones. The fridge sits within the pantry, clearly within the storage zone, which can be closed off (though not not completely as the door panes are clear glass), but the fridge is still in line with the back bench of the kitchen, so cleverly groups it into the cooking and prep zones.

The pantry width was specifically designed for the Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart Ice and Water fridge, which gives an ample amount of storage when the other walls are lined with shelves of Futura plywood.


Detail Design

The cooking zone is an anchoring point in the kitchen with the robust 90cm Gas on Glass Cooktop sitting over the 76cm Built-in Oven. The generous size of the oven’s internal cavity and the power and space available on the cooktop means that meals are easily created for a hungry family as well as for entertaining. The stainless steel details like the metal edging line and responsive dials tie in well with the stainless steel cabinetry while the black reflective glass provides another contrasting material within the kitchen palette.


Products &

  • 760mm 11 Function Pyrolytic Built-in Oven

    Fisher & Paykel large capacity ovens are visually impressive at 76cm wide, deliver outstanding performance. Eleven oven functions including self-clean and AeroTech cooking system make it the ultimate in cooking technology and convenience. Combine all this with its clean lines, stylish machined metals and electronic illumination, and the 76cm Single Built-in Oven strikes the perfect balance between form and function.

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