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Local materials and a sympathetic design create a home that appears to be part of its natural surroundings

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A sensitive design combined with a decision to use local materials where possible has resulted in a coastal lodge that blends into the landscape and reflects the local geography.

Architect Will Lewis was approached by the owners of a site on an isolated stretch of coastline. They wanted a home that would make the most of the land and be a retreat for family and friends.

When Lewis first saw the property, it was covered in stands of macrocarpa trees.

"The owners' plan was to clear the trees to make space for the new house, and to then mill the timber on the property and use it as the main building material," says Lewis.

Stone for the house was sourced from a nearby quarry, and the fortuitous final result, says Lewis, was a house with a low carbon footprint.


"These factors, combined with the passive solar design, create a very ecologically friendly house."

Lewis says his aim was to design a house that fitted into the landscape and reflected the geography. He also wanted the design to maximise the view and acknowledge the use of the local materials.

"Earthworks gave us a flat building platform that tucks into the hillside. The single-storey structure blends into its surroundings, while the roof angles follow the line of hills behind the house," he says.

Rough-sawn macrocarpa weatherboards were used to create rustic-looking cladding, and internal timber and beams are bandsawn and oiled.

For best appreciation of the beauty of the timber, the house was built using post-and-beam construction, with infills of weatherboard or glass panels.

"This highlights the rhythm of the timber structure – huge beams supporting the walls and roof are exposed and become features of the interior and exterior," says Lewis.

"The materials are mostly traditional, but in a modern vernacular, expressed through the simplicity of the design."

The internal layout of the house is dictated by the sun and views. By designing the house to face the north, the sun is able to reach deeply into the farthest corners of every space. And because the house is only one room deep, every part of it enjoys an outlook towards the estuary.

Good levels of exposure to the sun and a thick, insulated concrete floor slab combine to provide very effective passive solar heating.

Wide eaves protect the timber cladding from the elements and create a series of all-weather terraces around the house. Large sliding and French doors open up the living areas onto the terraces across the front of the house, while a courtyard at the rear provides a sheltered spot when a northerly wind blows up the estuary. The expansive glass doors and windows on both sides of the house ensure the views can be enjoyed equally well from here.

Inside, the living areas are in the centre of the house, while the master bedroom and guest bedrooms are located at each end of the building.

First published date: 16 August 2011

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Credit List

Architect, interior designer, kitchen designer, landscape designer Will Lewis, Lewis Architecture (Dunedin)
Builder Alistair McClintock
Engineer David Littleton
Kitchen manufacturer Taylor Made Joinery and Kitchens
Cladding Milled from macrocarpa trees on site by owner
Roofing ColorSteel from Dimond
Tiling SpazioCasa
Paints Resene
Lighting Lighting Plus
Heating JetMaster
Doors and windows Custom made by G R Clark Joiner
Kitchen cabinetry Macrocarpa veneers
Kitchen sink, taps SpazioCasa
Oven, cooktop Smeg
Refrigeration, dishwasher Fisher & Paykel