House of the week: Tasman Bay

19:46, May 07 2013
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The 10 x 10 square metre house was inspired by a Pacific Island bure.
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The lounge area has an open fire and huge windows that look out to Tasman Bay.
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The bedroom has an overhead skylight so the night sky can be seen.
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The shower gives a feeling of outdoor bathing.
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The galley kitchen is easy to use and highly functional.
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The dining area is surprisingly large in such a compact build.
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The build is effectively a tent, with a simple hip-like roof over the entire structure.
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The house has impressive views of Tasman Bay.

A home doesn't have to be huge to be luxurious, as this compact clifftop home near Nelson proves. At 10 x 10 square metres, this cottage combines style, quality and comfort.

The compact build was one son's answer to a purpose-built home for his aging parents positioned alongside his own home on the cliffs overlooking Tasman Bay, near Nelson. The idea was to ensure his parents' privacy and independence, yet enable them to live close enough to have the comfort and security of an attendant son.

The house needed to be suitably small and easy to look after, but of sufficient size to provide space, comfort and openness. It had to be light and airy yet also warm in the winter months.

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RETREAT: A glass screened divider creates privacy for the bedroom yet doesn’t compromise the light and spacious feel.

"The couple came to me a with a picture of a tropical bungalow, a roof over a living space, and gaps between the roof and the walls, and I'm thinking 'we don't live on a tropical island', but I understood the theme, so what we came up with is a New Zealand interpretation of that tropical theme," says architect David Jerram. 

The house is effectively a tent with a simple hip-like roof over the entire structure, 102 square metres precisely. 

"The roof shape is simple, the edges of the large eaves are viewed as horizontal lines, emphasised by horizontal lines in window divisions. The front corners of the building disintegrate so the space within does not feel too constrained and views from inside are not closed off by the corners," Jerram says.


Inside, the ceiling follows the roof shape over the living, dining, kitchen and bedroom areas. This space is only broken by a high level glass screen above a dividing joinery unit separating off the bedroom from the living spaces.

"People are blown away by the simplicity of the architecture and its effect," says owner Bob Haswell. "It was a challenge for David Jerram to piece it together... but the result and effect is stunning."

By cleverly using the high level glass screen to divide the bedroom from the living room the sense of space and the ability to maintain the feeling of the entire shape of the roof over is kept. The glass screen allows sun from the north-facing skylight over the bedroom to penetrate the living area, ensuring sun is maximised throughout the build. 

Shutters are used to open and close spaces, creating privacy from one area to another. "Generally the shutters between the bedroom and living spaces are left open but they do provide visual textural qualities to the interior," Jerram says.

The exterior cladding is mainly cedar with panels of brick to maintain the continuity of materials with the existing house nearby. The roof is traditional corrugated colour steel.

"While the building may seem simple it has been planned with spatial feeling and textural warmth which extends the design quality well beyond the norm," says Jerram. "It's a very special little building."


Build cost: $250,000

Architect: David Jerram,

Build size: 100 square metres

Materials: Cedar and brick cladding, rimu floors, macrocarpa window frames, copper spouting, colour steel roof

Energy efficiency: Could be better.

Done right: Underfloor heating in bathroom, beautiful design, perfect for summer living, great shower design, beautiful windows and sliding doors.

Done wrong: Heating for cottage (the fireplace is great but an extra heating option apart from the electric heaters would be better) and no double glazing. Maybe a solid door instead of a louvre door to the bathroom.

Unexpected: The digger driver driving into the newly finished roof and copper spouting! The beautiful tent-like feel you get because of the roof design.

Recommend: We highly recommend David Jerram as an architect.

Next time: Add double glazing and maybe underfloor heating for the whole cottage.