This project presented with an unusual site in an estuary context. Situated right on the harbour edge, the site borders an ancient Maori kai moana (fishing) area which was reclaimed last century for farmland. The wetland origin of the site, which confers a unique environmental quality combined with uncertain ground conditions, became a strong indicator for the design direction. It is a harsh marine environment where salt, wind and sun exact a toll on land and materials.
The architecture of this project takes as a metaphor the form and materials of the maori hinaki which was frequently used in this sort of harbour environment. The hinaki is an ancient maori eel trap, with an intricately woven basket at the end of a narrow colonnade of vertical sticks planted in the mud and sand to direct eels towards the basket.
Timber was used as a building material for the project, left to weather on the exterior to reflect the colours of the natural environment, and in the interior providing a warm and welcoming colour palette which expresses the idea of ‘home’. It also acts as a forgiving material for structure and cladding which can take up and distribute movement in the underlying ground plane.
The form and structure of the house reflect the hinaki, with the narrow footprint allowing maximum appreciation of northern views and sun. A colonnade of posts makes up the external structure or exoskeleton, with the linear plan directing the inhabitant towards an exquisitely lined and detailed music room housing a grand piano proudly owned and played by the clients