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March - Modernism on the Fairway

With rolling topography, views that stretch all the way to the Hen & Chickens Islands, and only five minutes from the spectacular Tara Iti golf course, securing a site at the Sandhills estate is like getting a hole in one.  So in 2017 when Box™ was asked to conceptualise a design for a holiday escape on this north-facing section, design manager Tony Borland-Lye knew he had to pull a birdie out of the bag.

The owner came armed with an inspiration sheet of modernist images, including his home in Auckland – a mid-century gem by Czechozlovakian émigré Vlad Cacala.

A dwelling that sat lightly on the land was the fundamental idea. Tony took up his pencil and sketched two pavilions, separated by a deck and held up like an object on display on a concrete-block base.  “We wanted a horizontal form that was anchored to the ground at just one point, rather than a two-storeyed monolith that obliterated the outlook on approach,” says Tony.

The concept meant the upper level cantilevered significantly on its ‘plinth’ while the central aperture of the linking deck not only broke up the mass of the rectangle but allowed a clear line of sight to the view.

Phase two of the design process was to create a computerised 3D model in SketchUp. “It’s a precursor to actual technical drawings and a really useful tool for owners which ‘peels’ back the walls to allow them to see inside and outside simultaneously and to envisage the relationship of the house to the land,” explains Tony.

The verdict from said owner: the perfect approach shot – and one that was well-lined up for success with just a couple of tweaks. The main change was that the two wings, originally conceptualised as semi-independent structures, were brought together - a budget-saving decision.

Not only was the owner as pleased as a Tiger who has just got out of the Woods, but the Sandhills Design Review Group, steered by well-known architects Pip Cheshire and Patrick Clifford, also gave it the thumbs up. “Naturally, in a sub-division of this quality, there are strict covenants. Although this is a holiday home with a relaxed feel it also has a level of formality that fits seamlessly alongside the other buildings in the development,” says Tony.

The material palette takes its cue from the rural vernacular and is sophisticated-rustic with the central connector clad in zinc tray and vertical cedar on the two ‘wings’. “I like to use vertical cladding to break up the horizontal a little.”

At 28 metres long, the upper storey cantilevers beyond the lower level by 4 metres on each side and by 2.5 metres at the front of the home to the north, an expression of high-end engineering that allows the form to float in space.

A screen on the lower level opens up to reveal a parking area (for cars and the odd golf cart) which punches through the building while closed-in soffits tidy up the structural moves: “That was important because a lot of the underside of the home is on show.”

Holding its own in the dress circle of houses that are designed by big-name architects on the estate, this is not your typical Box™ house.  “Yes, it has features from our stable- its modernist aesthetic and its full-height joinery, for instance – but it’s dialling the architecture up a notch.”

Now that round one of the process is complete and the detailed designs have been signed off, construction can begin.  Follow the journey on https://www.box.co.nz//march-modernism-on-the-fariway-2/