When Box were approached to design a holiday home on Kawau Island, they weren’t prepared for the unconventional brief. The owners wanted to recreate the idea of camping on the site.
To them, life was to be lived in the Great Outdoors; the dwelling itself was simply an add-on that came into its own during inclement weather. The idea is akin to at-home glamping so, instead of bedrooms, the couple requested a number of sleeping spaces – quite a number. The owners were attracted to the island because of its timelessness – the feeling you get when you arrive, that you are stepping back in history.
The 10 hectares is blanketed in regenerating bush: slender manuka and kanuka taper towards the sky while, along the coastline, magnificent pohutukawa cling to the cliff-side. This is mid-century modernism, wearing an indigenous cloak.
The house teams industrial structure with elements of the marae. Exposed Gluelam beams sandwich plywood panels and the whole appears strapped together by stainless-steel cross braces. Walkways with railings that mimic palisades provide a contextual reference to the former use of this land. An entry ramp cements the fortress-like image.
Although the home seems to turn its back on the view, glimpses of the emerald cove can be seen through the glazed box of the living zone. This room, which contains a plywood kitchen and wood-burner, is only 3.6 metres wide. A partial wall at the Southern end creates a slightly separate snug where the television and stereo reign. It converts into a sleeping space with a pull-out couch.