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Army barracks inspire kitchen design

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Camp-style kitchen by Context Architecture

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In designing this kitchen, the architect took his cue from communal campground kitchens and traditional army mess tents. But it wasn't an idea plucked from the blue – the 10ha rural property features several old army barracks that provided the inspiration for the architecture of the new house.

Stephen Voyle of Context Architects says the house has a portal-framed timber construction and is designed as a series of linked pavilions reminiscent of tents. The kitchen-family living area occupies the largest pavilion and is in the centre of the house, much like a communal kitchen is right at the heart of a campground. To further enhance the visual metaphor, the kitchen features a timber portal-framed island.

"Pacific jarrah was chosen for the solid timber elements throughout the house, because it is a renewable resource, and because it is a hardwood that can go directly into the ground," says Voyle. "Offcuts from the construction of the house were used in the kitchen."

On the island, the jarrah posts and benchtop frame white lacquered cabinetry that appears suspended beneath the timber.

Cabinets on the rear wall of the kitchen are a mix of blackbean timber veneer and a warm red lacquer. The full-height blackbean veneer cabinets on either side of the cooking centre visually anchor the kitchen, helping to define it within the large living space. Cabinets on the right side accommodate a pantry and an appliance cupboard, while the cabinets on the left house the refrigerator and wine storage. Additional storage for wine is provided by an under-floor cellar beneath the kitchen


To allow an uninterrupted view through the windows at the back of the kitchen, an integrated ventilation unit was specified.

Task lighting is set on the underside of an overhead shelving unit, and in a suspended steel lighting fixture directly above the island. Voyle says this element was also used to create a more intimate look.

"The ceiling in this part of the house is very high, and the island could have seemed lost within the overall space. This fixture brings a sense of scale to the kitchen."

Voyle says sustainability was a key driver for the design of the house. As well as sourcing eco-friendly materials, the design team incorporated rainwater harvesting and water recycling.

First published date: 06 August 2012

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Credit List

Architect Stephen Voyle, with Vicky Freeman, Context Architects (Auckland)
Cabinetry Blackbean timber veneer from C&R Swales
Benchtops Pacific jarrah timber from JSC Timber and stainless steel, manufactured by C&R Swales
Splashback Colourbacked glass from Glass Systems
Lighting Singer Electrical
Paints Resene
Sink Butler sink from Paterson
Taps Hansgrohe
Waste disposal bins Chesters Plumbing
Oven, cooktop, refrigerator and dishwasher Smeg from Kitchen Things
Ventilation Miele from Kitchen Things
Flooring Peter Fell Coloured Concrete