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This house responds to its agrarian environment


Nervous about constructing your new holiday house on geologically active land? Relax – there is a way to introduce security into the blueprint.

This residence was built in an area known for major ground movement. Architect Regan Johnston was asked to build a house that would meld with the rolling landscape but also offer a degree of protection against subsidence. Responding to this, the house is built as two parallel gable structures separated by a central spine, or gallery – each half with its own piles, floor plate and gable roof, says Johnston.

"The linking gallery acts as a hinge in the event of land movement, allowing for the separate re-levelling of one independent pile structure or the transport of either gabled form to a new platform as required," Johnston says. "This mitigates the risk of building on this sometimes volatile agrarian landscape."

The house responds to its setting in other ways, too. The design presents a closed, barn-like aesthetic from the street side of the house, but opens up to massive glazed walls at the other end, which look out to the sea views.

"We designed the house in the style of local farm buildings – the gabled roof and simple form call to mind a barn. Steel roofs and western red cedar cladding meld with the dark hues of the surrounding farmland," Johnston says.


The home's internal layout also responds to the scenic environment. Besides open-plan living areas with spectacular outlooks, an outdoor courtyard has been built into a corner of the main build envelope. This means the main roof shelters the open-air space, which also borrows wind protection from the hillside that rises in this area of the property.

From the open living-dining-kitchen area, the interior ranges back to a study and master suite on one side and a laundry, bathroom and two bedrooms on the other. From the front door, a sightline runs through the gallery to the views.

First published date: 05 March 2012

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Credit List

Architect Regan Johnston NZIA, Mason & Wales
Architects (Dunedin)Interior designer Sarah Johnston
Builder Scott Johnston
Kitchen designer Regan Johnston
Cabinet company Firman Joinery
Cladding Western red cedar from Herman Pacific
Roofing Longrun Colorsteel Maxx
Tiling Tile Warehouse
Flooring Kareila from Flooring Centre
Paints and varnishes Resene
Lighting Lighthouse
Doors and windows Architectural Suite from Ellison's Aluminium
Window and door hardware Ellison's Aluminium
Louvres Breezeway from Ellison's Aluminium
Blinds New Zealand Window Shades
Fireplace Jetmaster; Metro Mega
Audio visual Denon
Speakers Polk Audio