This isn’t the first time that New Zealand has struck our attention. This peculiar family residence on Waiheke Island, New Zealand was inspired by Fearon Hay Architects and is a sustainable, self-efficient retreat, which combines the raw beauty of its environment with warm and cozy interiors. Constructed on an area of 375sqm just above Matiatia Bay, the architects took advantage of the residence’s surroundings by building individual, freestanding structures, organised around a central courtyard. As each structure serves a different function, the living, sleeping and working zones are almost equally separated. The edifice also includes a relaxing pool area and open spaces in between the structures. The initial idea was to create a camp like complex with views over the Hauraki Gulf, and it is this simplicity which dominates throughout, emphasizing the contrast between this strangely attractive and yet rather inhospitable island. Endless grass fields and far reaching views create an exclusive background, thereby challenging the architects to play with different levels and materials.
The four structures resemble rough concrete blocks, lined with sliding glass panels and aluminium screens. Sustainability is ensured through solar panels, combined with rainwater harvesting systems as well as other design solutions, which all provide the owners the opportunity to reduce their need and demand for external resources as much as possible. All of this goes to show how despite the popularity of today’s sustainable design, being able to apply simple, yet effective, eco-friendly solutions in such an area with such provocative conditions, is indeed a great success.
The uniqueness of the residence relies not only on the intriguing scenery, but also on the contradictive interiors. Design objects and furnishings contradict the natural environment and the isolated area outdoors thereby stimulating our senses and attracting us to become a part of this cinematic landscape. Inviting lounge areas with leather finishes and linen fabrics create a remarkable sense of snugness, where open fires further empower this feeling. Warm colours and timber finishes soften the grey concrete tint, further enticing visitors and guests into the embracing and friendly environment.
In conclusion, successful projects like these always seem to beg one question, and that is why create extreme and complicated designs when the simplicity of an elegant conception speaks so thoroughly and straight to our hearts?
photos © Patrick Reynolds