The house with Len Castle's pottery in the walls, and Barry Crump's beer bottles in the garden

The late Len Castle is one of our best-loved ceramic artists his works are highly sought-after, fetching high prices at auction.
And now, the Titirangi home where he made his pottery has come on the market. The house, in Tawini Road, was designed for Castle in the 1960s by Group Architect James Hackshaw.

Current owners Paul Keesing and Tansy Hayden, who bought the property in 2018, have listed the house because they are planning to live on a yacht: We are going from being anchored here in the bush to being anchored at sea, says Keesing.


The couple say they initially fell for the way the house was immersed in the bush. It has a very light feeling about it, says Keesing. Its very frame-like as though its almost temporary, yet it is quite solid at the same time.


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They have since studied its architectural significance, and the stories it tells about the artist, who passed away in 2011. They say they keep discovering more things that emphasise just how special it is.

We feel like we have been caretakers, rather than owners, Keesing says. We have discovered, for example, that all the brickwork outside came from one of the first kilns Len built. We started finding shards of his pottery, which he used as fill between the bricks. One large cupped piece makes a great candleholder.

RAY WHITE
As close to nature as can be - the house designed for Len Castle nestles amid native bush on Tawini Road, Titirangi.

Recently, I was clearing the garden below a hut in the bush where Barry Crump would stay when he came to Auckland, and I found bottles down below. After he had a few beers, he would biff the bottles into the bush.

Keesing, who has a fine arts background, says he has always had an appreciation of Castles work, and is intrigued by Hackshaws architecture and the way it references the artists work.

To design a house that references Japanese architecture only a decade or so after the Second World War ended would have probably run counter to public sentiment at that time.

RAY WHITE
The high vaulted ceiling, with its exposed trusses and skylights heightens the sense of space and light.
RAY WHITE
Built-in timber shelving remains a feature of the open-plan living area.

To call it the Japanese House and have echoes of Japanese culture in it was quite extraordinary. But there is a link there with Lens raku pottery [which was inspired by traditional Japanese raku firing].

Keesing says he recently contacted the architects daughter. She remembers going to the house as a child and looking through it. I have extended an invitation for her to come and have a glass of bubbles on the deck in the bush. I will extend that to the architects son as well.

The couple have modernised the house, but not made structural changes. They put airconditioning throughout the house, which instantly halved the power bill. They have also added insulated blinds on the skylights, painted the interior, and undertaken some landscaping.

RAY WHITE
There is a large, contemporary kitchen with two islands.

We have kept everything to its original form and function, but made it a little more contemporary.

Keesing says they have framed photos of Castle building his kiln, which they will leave with the house when they sell.

Key features of the three-bedroom, 275 square-metre house include the huge vaulted ceiling in the living area, built-in furniture and large skylights. There is also a large, modern kitchen with two long islands.

RAY WHITE
The house opens out to a large deck that heightens the sense of being in the bush.

Castles kiln and workroom (since dismantled) were in a large area beneath the house, which could be redeveloped into a studio

The property has been listed by Lynn Lacy-Hauck of Ray White Ponsonby, and is being offered for sale by auction on March 31, 2021.

RAY WHITE
Owner Paul Keesing and Tansy Hayden say they continue to find shards of Len Castle's pottery. Bricks from his first kiln have been used in the landscaping.

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