Richard H Toy

(1911- 1995) Born in Canada and educated at Mount Albert Grammer, before attending the Auckland School of Architecture becoming a studio instructor for a year.

Gained a travel scholarship and toured Europe in 1937 before returning and teaching at Auckland School of Architecture. Designed the Berrisville Flats on Anzac Ave while working in the office of E Rupert Morton, prior to his OE. He held the Chair in Design at the Architecture School from 1959 to 1976, and was a renowned designer of churches including Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, St Chads in Sandringham and All Saints in Ponsonby.                                                                                                                                                                             The ‘Toy house’ designed in 1946 for a hillside section on the edge of Epsom was awarded the NZIA Bronze medal for domestic architecture in 1948; the April 1949 ‘Home & Building’ printing a second article on the house, which had recently been enlarged. ‘Home & Building’s 1946 article started “Current restrictions made it necessary to plan this Epsom home of Mr Richard Toy in such a way that it could be built in two stages”,  for althought the War was over the Government office of ‘The Building Controller’ would make additions to housing a slow and frustrating process for many keen to add space or improve their lot in life.!

Richard Toy’s house was deserving of the accolades it gathered and is still an inspiring and gracious home full of pleasant and interesting spaces. The building now extends almost the full width of the narrow section and entry is gained by passing what was a small sunken garden situated in front of the glazed southern wall; the door tucked under the overhanging ‘Super-Six fibrolite’ covered roof. Inside, the concrete pavers continue across from the door to the bathroom area, now connected to the rebuilt garage, the area filled with light and views both back to the sunken garden and streetscape, and the northern facing living room and balcony. Essentially a large rectangular top floor with a full height bookcase dividing off the rear quarter, which contains the open kitchen. The living area’s north facing wall is mostly full height glass doors which open on to the covered balcony, the west wall being partially constructed of stone and housing a fireplace and chimney. In the 1946 house a small flight of steps led out onto a deck behind the chimney wall, while another series of steps led down under the other flight to the bedroom area below. This very elegant and efficent use of space to reach the different levels is indicative of the thought and planning that went into the house. The lower north facing floor contains two large bedrooms, a bathroom and a storage area running the length of the house’s retaining wall. Interestingly the upper floor is supported by reinforced concrete beams in some areas- probably the first use of in a domestic situation and reveals why Toy was offered the teaching position at the School of Architecture so quickly after being there as a student.

The 1948 additions enlarged the house on the western side, the deck area being closed in and extended back to form three additional rooms, one downstairs and two on the top floor, though these are at differnt heights, creating a delightful play of volumes. The walls are mainly panelled in either Kohekohe or Rimu ply, and even the framing and weatherboards are Rimu – as is the floor, which consists in the lower level of 4” square Rimu blocks on asphalt  laid out to make a unique kind of parquet..!

to be cont… further information and images will be available shortly.


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see also: Toy – Block pages..