Kawau Island


Photographer: David Straight

Designed to provide a restful escape from the busy city lives of the owners – a family with three young boys – the house needed to be modest, flexible and hard-wearing.

Viewed notionally as a boatshed structure atop a jetty, this device also serves practically to lift the house as required above the flood plain. The arrival and entry to the house is seen as a continuation of the meandering journey from the water, where the ramp lifts the occupant to the ‘jetty’.

The exterior cladding is stripped back and utilitarian, with roofing and cladding mill finish corrugated iron – the texture referring to the classic kiwi bach. When not in use, the entire house can be closed down to provide security, using a series of solid shutters and doors to conceal the interior.

The interior is by contrast warm and cozy, lined in hoop pine plywood with solid oak flooring. On the ground floor a series of more intimate spaces can be created, or connected together using sliding door panels.

The circulation zone connects the front and the rear decks, serving all the interior spaces. The stair and upper level landing is visually lightweight, and is held away from the walls, treated as a bridge element. This space connects with a series of solid shutters and doors, and large translucent sliding panels.

Fittings and fixtures are deliberately simple and pared back drawing references from the old Kawau Island baches of the past.

The meandering journey continues to the back of the house, up a series of steps to a sheltered private deck with a hot tub.

Translucent corrugated panels provide a lantern-like quality to the front deck at night, and extend the deck when open, to provide greater privacy to the interior and protection from the elements.

NZIA Local Award 2018 / Auckland

See all projects by