Upper house

The rare 1960s modernist house by architect Vladimir Cacala has lost none of its importance

Modernist architect Vladimir Cacala, who came to New Zealand from Czechoslovakia in 1952, designed some of the country’s most sought-after mid-century homes.

They have remained wonderful examples of international modernism – whenever a house by Vladimir Cacala comes up for sale, you are guaranteed that throngs of architecture enthusiasts will be the first to walk through the door.

Cacala, trained under Bauhaus mentors in Prague, designed tall, long houses that were the antithesis of the gabled forms more commonly seen at that time. His houses were often built on sloping sites, with the living room on the upper level, with huge glass doors opening onto a long balcony.

The Kay <a class=House in Victoria Ave, Remuera, was designed by Vladimir Cacala in 1960 for the parents of former Auckland Mayor Colin Kay.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

The Kay House in Victoria Ave, Remuera, was designed by Vladimir Cacala in 1960 for the parents of former Auckland Mayor Colin Kay.

The owners of the Kay House, built in 1960 at the bottom of Victoria Avenue in Remuera, Auckland, have effectively transformed their Vladimir Cacala home into an art gallery. The modernist design and white walls create the perfect backdrop for an array of modern art and some mid-century furniture.

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One of the owners admits it was one of the reasons the house attracted them nine years ago, along with the architectural history and location.

Cacala's architectural signature is evident in the contained box shape of the upper floor and the floor-to-ceiling windows opening the entire front facade onto a balcony.

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

Cacala’s architectural signature is evident in the contained box shape of the upper floor and the floor-to-ceiling windows opening the entire front facade onto a balcony.

“We love mid-century architecture and we love bright spaces, with their large floor-to-ceiling windows, she says. “There is a great flow through the house and over the decks which is great for socializing. There is sun all day. This is the brightest and warmest house I have ever lived in.

As with many Cacala homes, this four-bedroom home, spanning 607 square meters, features a grand hall (entrance is on the upper level) where art is first introduced. This leads to a large living room opening onto a long balcony. Two large bedrooms also open onto the balcony.

But there is also a much larger second terrace next to the family living room and the kitchen to one side. A few wide steps lead to a putting green.

The large white walls provide plenty of opportunities for art display.

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

The large white walls provide plenty of opportunities for art display.

The large living room and the two bedrooms open onto the balcony.

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

The large living room and the two bedrooms open onto the balcony.

On the lower level, there is a third living room opening directly onto a terrace, plus two further bedrooms and the piece de resistance, a 12m swimming pool.

“It was fantastic with the teenagers,” says the owner. “They were able to have their own space downstairs and their own bathroom and shower, and not impact us. The downstairs living room opens directly onto the pool – it is compliant.

The proximity to a beach a few houses away was another plus – the owners affectionately refer to the house as their “Remuera beach house”. “We spent a lot of time there with the kids, paddle boards and kayaks, and my little dog.”

The dining room and the kitchen-family living room open onto a west-facing terrace.

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

The dining room and the kitchen-family living room open onto a west-facing terrace.

The owner says it is the brightest and warmest house she has ever lived in.

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

The owner says it is the brightest and warmest house she has ever lived in.

But now the owners want to downsize. “We spent more time on lockdown at home in the north. It’s time to downsize and go play more golf.

The property was originally built for the parents of former Auckland Mayor Colin Kay.

It was listed by Rawdon Christie and Steve Hood by Barfoot & Thompson Remuera. It will be auctioned on July 6, 2022.

Wide steps lead down to a putting green.

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

Wide steps lead down to a putting green.

A third living space on the lower level opens onto the 12m swimming pool.

BARFOOT & THOMPSON

A third living space on the lower level opens onto the 12m swimming pool.