Project: 3 Bedroom Home / Courtyard House
Architects: Strachan Group Architects
Location: Whitford, Auckland, New Zealand
Photo Credits: Simon Devitt
Text by Strachan Group Architects
2019 Finalist NZ ColorSteel Building of the Year
2020 Trends International Design Awards Winner – NZ Architect Designed Bathroom
This home is located high on a hill with expansive views west from the Manukau Heads through to the Gulf Islands and the Coromandel to the east. A home for a farmer, a landscape gardener and their adult family. The design brief called for a relatively efficient 3 bedroom home to accommodate family life and flexible occupation of the adult children in rural south-eastern Auckland.
Tricky site geology offered a predetermined 20x20m building platform (400m2). A conscious decision to resist the normal response of spreading out across the landscape and to allow the building platform to remain a constraint, meant “thinking inside the box”. This led to a process of subtraction, of cutting away space not required. The home is solid to the south and south-west with a courtyard in the middle and is cutaway to the north east corner. It turns it’s back to the road front and the coldest wind, opening to the sun and view, all while remaining within the 20x20m square.
The elevated position subjects the site to severe weather from every direction. Rural farm buildings have inspired a collection of ‘lean-to’ like forms gathered around the courtyard, each creating a silhouette against the skyline. Links to the rural vernacular are incorporated with the use of profiled metal for the primary cladding. Like a Driza Bone rain coat the cladding provides a protective coat on the exposed site and fits snuggly over and around the cold sides of the building. The cladding loosens a bit to the warmer north facade, with projecting eaves and siberian larch siding to add a layer of softness and warmth. Larch continues inside the living spaces to bring the warmth in. The exterior colour palette is deliberately grey and subdued to blend building and sky.
A solid castle like landscape wall closes the road edge of the square form, screening off courtyards, service spaces and entries. The wall adds a layer of mystery of what lies beyond. A single central living space opens to a sheltered landscaped courtyard to the east and a covered outdoor space to the west. This living space also forms the connection between the separate bedroom zones.
A combination of time and the client’s passion for landscape will further embed the built form into the site, transforming the house high on a hill into a home that is completely of the hill.