Friday, January 07, 2011

Classics nouveaux

Admiration for classic architecture has continued undiluted for decades. It's not only pop music of the 1960s that now has seen a resurgence, but also architecture from the 1860s.

In a world that is moving faster, and in an environment of mirror glass in our cities, it is small wonder that a large number of people still seek traditional and classic styles in their homes.

That has been the inspiration of Replica Homes. Founded in Christchurch 10 years ago, almost 400 of these exclusive and carefully built homes have now been erected throughout the country. Even a few shipped to Australia.

Generally larger and more detailed than conventional homes, they cost marginally more than a standard 'brick and tile' home.

Replica Homes do not offer kitsets or do-it-yourself instructions but rather they have authentic design styles, evocative of the French provincial or Victorian colonial era. Then they manufacture special doors, windows and mouldings exclusively for their homes -unavailable elsewhere.

Using modern building techniques and layouts, Replica Homes incorporate their own traditional materials - native timbers, tongue and groove panelling - moulded architraves and skirting to present an ambience that is unique to Replica Homes and otherwise only found in the villas and mansions of the late 19th Century.

But the Replica Homes designs do not 'ape' the century old styles, rather they design them to incorporate the same classic 'flavour' but include the requirements of today's lifestyles.


The interest in Replica Homes seems to be getting stronger as time goes by, living proof that there are some things in life that are timeless.

"Modern Classics."
Home and Building,
December/January 1988,


classic traditional exclusive detailed authentic design evocative ambience lifestyle timeless


Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? Maybe it is their evocative ambience of exclusive lifestyles; but then, any other combination of the keywords above will do, such as "authentic timeless design" or "traditional detailed lifestyle."

What I like is the Replica Homes copywriting style, with its combination of traditional words in non sequiturs designed for today's lifestyles. It is all so evocative of the French provincial or Victorian colonial era, presenting an ambience that is unique to Replica Homes and otherwise only found in the villas and mansions of the late 19th Century.

In an ever-changing world it is comforting to find - more than twenty years since this copy appeared in Home and Building - that Replica Homes is still with us. Their oeuvre has expanded to include contemporary styles, as the photo gallery reveals. Yet still, they maintain the timeless tradition of truly awful house designs with names seemingly chosen at random: Granada, Lewisham and Athena; Braeburn and Braeburn Alternative. Mornington Crescent.

And still their copy makes no sense:
Here is the urban, sophistication of symmetry. Pillars and terracotta tiling, monochromatic colours, careful use of space. Understated effects that are both formal and bold.
Imagine gracious surroundings with sweeping staircases, grand entrance ways, with arches, columns and balconies forming architectural highlights. Open up double doors into noble rooms or onto elegant terraces. Put a gazebo a short way from the house and instill everything with a dignified character.
Go on, do it now. You know you want to.

Nice video, shame about the song:


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Paul said...

Aw shucks, but I bet you say that to all the bloggers.

Yes, you do.

Michael Wynd said...

Can't knock the song - it's classic 80's

Marie said...

Holy heck!! Happy with my standard "brick and tile", though as it is genuine brick and tile it needs no speech marks. However, we can all do with "careful use of space".