House Of The Week
A glorious camping-style house in Great Barrier Island is the start of owner Mathew Harte's plan to tread lightly, conscious of being a custodian of the land, yet wanting so much more than just a space to live in.
He took five years to get to know a regenerating bush block on Great Barrier in all conditions, camping out or renting near by.
Once his thoughts were more refined he sought out a like mind to create his vision.
"Architect Sam Kebbell could understand the principles of managing the regeneration of the land, that the house needed to be more than just a place to stay and that it was the first of a series.
"I had dreams of an architecture park where people and designs could intersect: the buildings would be like lily pads designed by clever individuals.
Commissioned for the project Kebbell pondered 'how can we develop a house that integrates architecture and landscape, not just in terms of how it looks, but also how it works?'
The response is a structure that is complementary to the hillside. It follows the contours of the land and incorporates an all-important path for exploring the bush.
"It's an inspirational place," says Harte.
"The way Sam has framed the view with the structure, and the view is world class."
Kebbell describes it as 'relatively sculptural, yet a building that sits quite gently into the hillside, under the ridgeline.'
"Although the overall form is quite complex, the detailing is very basic. It's not about the finesse of detail; it's much more raw than that, it's more like a sculptural hut.
"The living space and kitchen are basically outside, and only enclosed by a large sliding PVC door, like the doors on the side of a Coca-Cola delivery truck. This means the whole living area can be completely opened up, but equally it can be locked down and warmed up when it needs to be. The rest of the materials are also very straightforward: butynol membrane roofing, concrete and timber floors, and shiplap weatherboards."
Because it is relatively inaccessible the actual building of the house was a challenge as materials and equipment all needed to be transported down several hundred metres of narrow track.
Concrete was all mixed on site, and most of the materials were brought in with a quad bike and trailer.
Harte describes the project as a love triangle of commitment between the architect, builder and owner.
The result is stunning, delivering on Harte's vision of architecture that partners nature rather than dominates.
Kebbell is concise: 'It's more like camping, it's about going there to be in the bush, that's the culture of the place. It's a place for Swandris and mountain bikes, not a place for high heels."
The long walk in is a wonderful way to ensure those arriving take the bare minimum and relax, walking in presents a chance to clear the mind, readying to do very little and do it in style.
Cost: Under $1 million
Size: 120 sq.m.
Architect: Sam Kebbell, KebbellDaish
Materials: Concrete, butynol, Structurflex, weatherboard ship lap.
Energy efficiency: The house is entirely self sufficient.
Done Right: The house is in the middle of the bush, yet it's very comfortable and that's the juxtaposition. The project is about the fact that you're not in town yet you have all the pleasures, you're in the bush yet you're dwelling in comfort. This ishard to achieve on an island where you are generating your own electricity, collecting water and dealing with wastewater and sewage.
Done Wrong: My situation changed: when I started I wanted to get away from the maddening crowd, now I have to take the maddening crowd with me, we have two children now. Perhaps I should have put another bedroom on?
Unexpected: The framing of the view, it's out of the park, hit for six, it really is amazing. I was surprised at how hard it was to keep systems: water, wastewater, power and heating whilst maintaining the quality expected. You bend over backwards to conform to the RMA and Council standards, though your guarantee on materials and build are no longer than 25 years at best despite the fact that buildings built ages ago, with older systems, are still standing proud and beautiful!
Recommend: The learning journey you go on when you build is part of the journey you want. Sam understood that and John Daish was always behind him.
Next Time: I hope there will be a next time. Rather than extend this building I'd like to build another close by with a mutual area. The next time will be cool, the next building will connect within the plan and I hope Sam and others are part of the journey.
- © Fairfax NZ News