Sumner Love

Sumner Love add

In Canterbury's seaside suburb of Sumner, lies a smart beach house combining the best of traditional summer home living with modern comforts, intelligent systems and contemporary design.

It is also the setting for a good old-fashioned love story.

Designed by Architectural Designer Aaron Jones of Urban Function Architecture, the home was designed for a bachelor with the view that it would eventually accommodate a family. However, nobody would have guessed that only a few months after completion, the house would become home to Aaron's sister - after a chance meeting with the owner.

"My sister needed some help with an IT problem. The owner of the house was a specialist and owned his own IT company and so I recommended she ask him for advice. I wasn't trying to match-make, but as they say the rest is history!" says Aaron.

Now officially part of his client's family, after his sister's whirlwind romance and wedding, Aaron has designed homes for the entire family - including all three brothers and their parents.

"It's a funny old story to tell, says Aaron. "And on top, it has been great to be able to regularly visit and see how the design works on a daily basis. Even more, I have been lucky enough to see this home grow from a bachelor pad to a family home - just as my brother in law had hoped. It has definitely been a very gratifying experience."

The home is exactly how a modern beach house should be; it is relaxed and cosy yet contemporary and filled with all the latest mod cons. It also has elements of sustainable / environmentally suitable design and energy efficiency.

The section is very narrow and at only 12m wide; the 260sqm house eclipses the majority of the site's width. However what the homes loses in width, it makes up for in depth and clever design.

One of Aaron's favourite features is the use of the upstairs floor plate.

"To get the most out of the floor space upstairs, we designed a double height ground floor atrium and a floating bridge to link the two upper level spaces. This strategy allowed the insertion of the required stairwell without compromising any of the precious upstairs floor space."

Completely automated, the entire home is connected to a smart home system, designed by Smart Things NZ. It enables maximum energy savings by controlling electrical devices. Completely wireless, it uses sensors behind electrical outlets that talk to a phone app and the home computer. This gives the owner the ability to turn on irrigation at the push of a button, check security on a whim and turn lights and heating off and on remotely. It also tracks their phone and can recognise when they aren't home so it can turn off any appliances left on, turn off the lights and arm the alarm automatically.

Energy efficient, the home is wrapped in a 7mm eco-plywood skin, the external walls have been super insulated and the polished concrete floor, that spans the entire ground floor, has been fitted with an air to water hydronic underfloor heating system.

"The concrete floor creates a distinct and dramatic impression, however we wanted to make sure that it was warm and could heat the home, says Aaron. "Installing an air to water hydronic underfloor heating system means all the heat rises up through the floor and makes the floor and air around you warm. Impressively, in order to keep the temperature of the home at a sustained level during the winter months, it only needs to be turned on from 9pm - 7am. The heat captured in that time is retained until 10pm the following night. It is so effective there is no other form of heating in the home."

This home is one which is incredibly considered, well designed and most importantly warm, sunny and inviting.

A Sumner resident himself, Aaron is establishing a name for himself as a specialist in beach home designs. Since returning to Christchurch in 2009,, he has built three homes in Sumner with two more to come in 2014.

Photography by Stephen Entwisle