We Must Have Fun!

20 March 2013
Written by Sacha Kenny | Images by Sacha Kenny
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Sacha Kenny visits a fantastic Kapiti Coast property, built and shared by two brothers, that is a visual feast of design, style, colour and creativity


As you reach the driveway to this amazing property, the twisted wrought iron inscription on the gates says it all -
A Gaudi mau B ma Habi, Bavarian slang for We Must Have Fun.  

A collaborative endeavour between builders and brothers Jonathan and Phil Neal, this 2.5-acre, Kapiti Coast property opens out before you as if you’ve been teleported to a gorgeous European village. 

The brothers have built homes for themselves - side by side but not too close - that display an incredible attention to detail and design as well as the courage to step outside the box and build from the heart.

As an alternative to timber, the framework of the houses has been constructed using polystyrene blocks filled with concrete, which were then rendered, providing great natural insulation and keeping the house cool in summer and warm in winter.

Inspired in part by their travels through Europe, the homes are, depending on your vantage point, an eclectic mix of Austrian villa meets German chalet meets English cottage. And that’s where the magic lies - both houses have such distinctive qualities and charms that no matter which way you look the view and perspective is different.

Also a source of inspiration is the work of 19th century Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, whose distinct architectural work adorns the streets of Barcelona. Gaudi was greatly influenced by the organic forms of nature, which can be seen throughout his work with his use of curved construction stones and twisted iron sculptures. He also adorned many of his buildings with coloured tiles and mosaics.

Gaudi’s influence can be seen in subtle ways throughout the property - the curved pathway and wrought iron twisted gate that leads to Jonathan's family home and within the courtyard outside the kitchen window. The rounded staircase that leads to the second level has been fitted with a twisted wrought iron banister handmade by the brothers and the facing of each step is being beautifully and patiently titled with mosaics by Elke, Jonathan’s German wife. 

Jonathan says “It’s great to be able to design and create a dream property that so many people enjoy and appreciate.”

Out past the chicken coop and vegetable garden a gaggle of geese graze on the reeds that line the free-flowing stream. A stand of poplar trees, planted as a wind break as well as a sustainable source of timber for the future, make a beautiful setting. This fantastic property really is a visual feast that fills the heart and senses with all the joy and fun first promised by the driveway gates: ‘A Gaudi mau B ma Habi’ - ‘We Must Have Fun’.


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