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Under Pohutukawa, Piha, Auckland 
Friday 30 Nov 2012
 
Beach house enclosed in forest belt 
 
Patrick Reynolds 
 
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Award Entry

Built within the trees, house alludes to bark and wood carvings 

The site was extremely challenging for the architects as 90% was covered in mature pohutukawa trees, the site being a part of a continuous belt of forest that edges the road along the beach front. The circumstances therefore dictated a sensitive poetic response to a building that as in order to exist the destruction of a large number of mature trees would be required. A great consideration was given to the trees to give the architects guidance on the program of the house.

The brief was loosely separated into private and public components, giving smaller individual masses with which to articulate the forms. The private functions of bedrooms and garage are housed in two towers which are construed as freshly sawn stumps of the trees that were removed. To allude to the bark of the stumps the skins of the towers are clad in black-brown stained rough sawn irregular battens. The interior spaces are then seen as carved out of the freshly cut wood, achieved by detailing all the wall and ceiling and cabinetry elements in the same light timber. The public space connects the two towers and attempts to engage with the surrounding pohutukawa forest by defining a crossover space between the powerful natural environment and the built form.

The plane of the roof form pins off the towers to engage with the continuous tree canopy, disintegrating from a rigid plane to a frayed edge which filters light in a similar way to the leaf canopy. The primary structure holding up the roof is a series of tree elements which allude to the trunks and branches of trees but are detailed in a rigorous geometric arrangement which suggests an ordering of nature as it enters and forms the building.

The height of the public space with its light glass division responds to the height of the surrounding trees, the roof plane is partially glass to allow the full extent of the trees to be felt as they lean over the building. A walkway links the towers at the upper level allowing engagement with both the natural and manmade canopies.


Key Facts

Status Completed December 2011
Value Undisclosed(m€)
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herbst architects ltd
www.herbstarchitects.co.nz
 
Vola
ECOWAN
 

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