Her Outdoors: `How Could You Not Want to Go?'

By Perkins, Emily | The Independent (London, England), April 28, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Her Outdoors: `How Could You Not Want to Go?'


Perkins, Emily, The Independent (London, England)


It's my last weekend on this out-of-the-way New Zealand island where I've been visiting family; my choice is between spending it at the local Steiner school's fundraising fair, which will represent all too accurately a cross-section of the island's "alternative" populace, or at a housewarming party for a modernist palace in the hills, the sort of place James Bond might pop into for a quick shootout and a spot of vodka and seduction. The main temptation of the Steiner bunch is the billboard advertising the fundraiser that sits proudly by the wharf. It reads: "Fossil Bay Farm Cuntry Fair." I mean, how could you not want to go?

But, seeing as I need to ease myself back into metropolitan life, the prospect of visiting a newly designed house, checking out the attached gallery and being well fed (I fear the Steinerites will be offering Fossil Bay Farm Falafels and not much more) wins out. The day is grey and moody and quite in keeping with the tin, concrete and glass house, which is really the size of a small nation's cultural museum. Our hostess, a softly spoken curator and patron of the arts, welcomes us; the architect and exhibiting artist accept everyone's congratulations, and gradually people get over their shyness about snooping around.

The only part of the house I don't understand is the lap pool; if the builders are going to all that trouble, surely you'd at least like a pool you can have fun in, rather than a puritanical one that sits wordlessly admonishing you to exercise every morning? Why not, as one guest suggested, run the lap pool right round the house like a moat? But this is facetious: the architecture is severely beautiful in a Wallpaper-eat-your-heart-out way, with lovely outdoor fireplaces in the courtyards and huge windows in every room that offer up the constantly changing sky and sea.

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