Kuaotunu House


The intention was to renovate an existing holiday home for a family on a dramatic site in Kuaotunu. The 70s bach had served the family well for many years and was imbued with family memories. It was too valuable as a family artefact to demolish. To accommodate the needs of the grown family and their friends, additional spaces were required. The architectural intention was to distinguish these new buildings by separating them. This allowed for a series of sheltered outdoor spaces protected from prevailing winds while allowing inhabitants to be part of the view. The holiday experience was reinforced by the separate pavilions being disconnected from the main living room, resulting in a camping experience as if going from tent to tent.

The social organisation of the plan is relaxed and holiday-like. There is no front entry. Experiences of everyday rituals are connected to the outside and a contrast from urban living. The original house was gutted and rebuilt to form the complex’s central pavilion. Also retained was a steep hipped roof with two oversized dormers to extend the useable space in the mezzanine.

Sliding glass walls on three sides dissolve the barrier between inside and outside, opening the living room to the elements – this area also features an L-shaped kitchen under the mezzanine.

The house is built for the rigours of coastal life with a low-maintenance material palette of timber, zinc and glass. The zinc roof was designed to imitate fish scales, and exterior materials include such traditional elements as vertical battens, horizontal boards, glass and aluminium louvres. Shutters allow the house to be closed up while the owners are not in residence.

The master suite is reached via a short covered boardwalk. Its shower is by the sliding glass frontage: water drains through interior deck flooring and the freestanding bath is oriented for best views out through both the glass doors and a strip of skylight above.


NZIA Award 2008 / Award for Architecture 2008

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