Low-slung in the landscape, this container-like home initially gives little away. Beneath wide skies on a pocket of hilly land near Whareora, a 15-minute drive north from Whangarei, it’s a black box, clad in vertical grooved board. The symmetry and strength of stainless-steel cross-bracing keys into the industrial vernacular of rural buildings nearby.
Inside the front door, set into a ‘bite’ of golden cedar plywood (a foil to that imposing black skin), there’s still no hint of the view that lies beyond. An entrance gallery, a request from the owners who are art lovers, runs along the rear so it is only once a corner is turned, that the vista is revealed: the land drops away on three sides and the house feels like a boat, floating in an ocean of green.
The challenge of the site was a tight building platform which the engineered piles had to sit within. To gain more floor space, the Box™ team devised a form that cantilevers above the ground on three sides. The plan reads as two bisecting rectangles where the services are grouped internally at the centre and the main living zone stretches along the north-facing ridge. A membrane roof keeps the profile low so as not to break the horizontal structure while the garage door is disguised by locating it to the side, rather than front-on.
The owners, who occupy the home three days out of seven, wanted simple volumes with little pretension but high levels of craftsmanship. Cork-tiled flooring turns back the clock to the mid-century bach, built-in window seats capitalise on the view while providing storage and there’s a custom-designed concrete hearth for the wood-burning fireplace. The kitchen, which can be separated from the living zone by a large sliding door (important as one of the owners is an audio enthusiast), is a simple but striking combination of black, white and timber with birch timber ply cabinets and a honed granite splashback.