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Award-winning home features exposed raw materials and a novel approach to layout

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The primary structure of this new home consists of parallel precast concrete walls, fully glazed at each end and topped with a gabled roof

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Winner: 2017 TIDA International Home of the Year

The phrase ‘form follows function' has been the mantra of modern architecture for well over a century. And one of its most celebrated proponents, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, takes this principle even further – "... determining form by way of the nature of materials..."

It's an apt description of the approach taken by architect Vaughn McQuarrie for the design of this award-winning island home.

"The owners really liked board-formed concrete and concrete in general," says McQuarrie. "They wanted surfaces in their new home to have depth and texture, rather than be flat, painted manicured ones."

The owners also had some interesting design influences that they wanted him to consider.

"They asked for grand spaces and a high stud," he says. "They liked the volumes you get in churches. Plus they were quite keen on boatshed shapes."

And because they entertain a lot, they needed accommodation for guests to stay, but wanted the guest area to be separated off so that they had their own space too.

A relatively flat section at the northern, street end of the long narrow site was the natural position for the home. The site then drops down to the south, giving views out to the bay below.

An existing house and outbuildings on the site were moved away – except for one concrete outbuilding which the owners asked to be retained.

McQuarrie says the starting points for homes he designs include sun and views.

"I want to capture as much winter sun as possible, while keeping the summer sun out, as well as making the most of any key views that the site has," he says.

After presenting two initial design concepts, and following on from continued dialogue with the owners, he hit on a plan that ticked all the boxes.

"The final concept was quite a departure from where we were before. The house has a grand central space, surrounded by smaller spaces, somewhat like a church in the centre of a small village."

The ‘church' consists of a singular open space created by parallel, precast concrete walls with a skillion roof sitting on top.

"It had that traditional gabled boatshed design they liked for their own space, and meant that the guest wings could just sit off to the side."

Four steel beams running between the concrete panels allow a mezzanine space to be inserted at each end – one accommodates the master suite and the other is used as a workspace – while the two ends of the space are fully glazed.

Access to the mezzanine level is via a substantial, helical staircase, which provides a sculptural focal point in the living areas.

The Litecrete precast panels have been left exposed inside and out. This, in combination with the exposed steel beams and timber floor beams, allows the primary structure of the main space to also become the finished fabric.

"The structure is the architecture," says McQuarrie. "It's quite a simple, robust building – it's not fussy. The materials speak for themselves."

The textured concrete walls, together with the poured concrete floor, also create a substantial thermal sink – helping to keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. Plus the roof is very well insulated and the expansive windows are double glazed with LowE glass.

With no mains water or sewerage system on the island, the house also needed to provide its own services.

It collects its own rainwater to provide for all domestic needs, supplemented by an on-site bore to irrigate the garden.


First published date: 22 November 2017

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Credit List

Architect Vaughn McQuarrie Architect
Kitchen design Anthony Young Design
Cladding Shadowclad
Roofing Corrugated steel
Precast panels Litecrete by Wilco Precast
Flooring Polished concrete; Rhino carpet
Wallcoverings Bedrooms – Gaboon ply, Prime Panels
Staircase manufacture Enzie Stairs
Kitchen cabinetry Ply Tech Trans-Tek 220. Birch ply with Gaboon ply detailing; scullery – Gaboon ply
Benchtop Stainless steel by Crosbies
Kitchen sink Ikon
Oven, cooktop, ventilation Fisher & Paykel
Refrigerator Jenn-Air
Dishwasher Meile semi-integrated
Bath Victoria and Albert Napoli freestanding
Bath faucet American Standard Rotunda
Shower Altantis Linea Quattro
Tiles Middle Earth
Awards Trends International Design Awards (TIDA)Homes – Winner