A home forever connected in the circle of Life!

Max and Tricia Hynds’ dream forever home sits in the stunning back drop of Whitianga Waterways, on the Coromandel Peninsula. The home recently achieved Lifemark® 4-Star certification for displaying Universal Design best practice, but there is so much more to this design than meets the eye!

This is more than just a home; this is an example of the journey of life literally going full circle.

In 1995, Max was a Mechanical Engineer tutor at Unitec Auckland school of Architecture teaching environmental and spatial home design. Max knew of accessibility and the need to incorporate it into homes, but he knew nothing of Universal Design.
Little did he know that in his class that year was a student who would go on to design a stunning forever home for him and his wife, that achieved high levels of Universal Design.

It wasn’t until Max met his now wife, Tricia, that he became aware of Universal Design. Max and Tricia both had “previous partners who were wheelchair bound for many years and had experienced the frustrating restrictions that the traditional New Zealand house designs posed. We wanted a home that we could comfortably stay in for most of our lives and enjoyed designing our home to that end.”

They both had previous experience of modifying a home when purchasing a book about ‘Wheelchair Home Design’.

But a dream home for Max and Tricia was far more than one designed just for wheelchair users.

Having travelled to Japan, Max and Tricia had a love for traditional Japanese gardens and a zen aesthetic.

Zen like Japanese gardens

Internally they “were after a design that incorporated a generous kitchen with family room and cathedral ceilings that transitioned seamlessly to an outdoor atrium space.”

So, who did they turned to achieve create this Universally Designed space?

Well, life literally went full circle when Max went knocking on the door of one of his former students’ homes after recognizing her face online. Kirstin Castle from Studio 77 was tutored by Max back in 1995 and was chosen to be their Architect.

Studio 77 worked together with builder HAMR Home who said incorporating Universal Design was very easy.

Studio 77 was very thorough with their plans in incorporating Universal Design. Great details like door handle and light switch heights on the plans meant we were able to get the specs spot on to achieve the standards. There was also more than enough space allowed in the plans when it came to interior joinery design to easily achieve our turning circles. The same also applied to the showers and exterior doors with level entry thresholds.” Said Richard, Director of HAMR Home.   

The result was a Universally Designed home the Hynds absolutely love!

Max and Tricia’s favourite Universally Designed features of the home include, “the generous spaces around the kitchen, bathrooms, hallways, transition spaces and outdoor atrium space.  The home also has level access that gives superb indoor-outdoor flow.” Says Max.

Max says “the kitchen is a dream to use, with both of us loving to cook, we just love the kitchen space and its functionality. Due to the generous space between benches, it is easy for several people to be operating within the kitchen at any one time, as well as providing very easy access to the storage under the benches.

The Universally Designed bathroom is aesthetically pleasing to be in, and opens out to the private secluded garden.

“The ensuite shower space is 2600mm x 1100mm with a level entry 1000mm opening which opens out to an outside private Japanese garden. This double shower space is incorporated into the bathroom design having 2600mm x 3500mm overall dimensions.  Access to the ensuite is via an 830mm cavity slider.” Says Max.

The Hynds would encourage other New Zealanders to build their homes with Universal Design.

“Having been post-war babies who built their first homes in the 1970’s that were simple, small houses that were difficult to access inside and out, we would encourage people to build a home using Universal Design techniques.

 Our home is generous in size but Universal Design Strategies can benefit small modest houses as well. It is about the ease at which we go about our daily tasks that should be easy and pleasant to undertake.”

Max and Tricia highly recommend Lifemark® Design Partner Kirstin, at Studio 77, to any Kiwis looking to build a future proofed home that enables them to age in place especially in the Thames/Coromandel region.

We hope Max, Tricia and all their friends and family enjoy this home for many years to come!

Max and Tricia outside the grand entrance into their home

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