Awaawaroa House

Close connections to the outdoors are fostered through this unique Waiheke Island home.

The majority of people who build new homes on Waiheke Island aim to find a north-facing site with sea views. For the owners of this home, however, it was a coastal, south-facing site that took their fancy. The aim of the design was to create a house that was personal, private and offered a retreat, using the side of the hill as shelter and encompassing the idea of an encampment to foster a lifestyle that was close to nature. Views to the sea are framed by the house itself and outdoor living is foremost.

Designed by Cheshire Architects, the home consists of three separate buildings embraced by an outdoor room. The central, gable form contains the social areas of the house - the living, kitchen and dining spaces - and two smaller canvas clad buildings straddle it on either side, which contain bedrooms and bathrooms. 

“The site was formative in the way the buildings are placed,” says designer Sarah Gilbertson. “As you approach the site, the single gabled form acts as a marker, and the courtyard and cabins gently reveal themselves as you move into the site.”

The three buildings are dressed in unusual claddings, with the two small buildings cloaked in a tautly stretched canvas skin. “These are carefully considered and detailed, yet simple, buildings,” says Gilbertson. “The canvas conceals careful engineering that allows occupation of the thresholds. These form a vestibule for shoes and coats, and window apertures which you can occupy.”

The central gable features Metalcraft Roofing's  E-Span® 340 roofing in COLORSTEEL® Lichen, with the illusion of it folding down the outer wall. This is detailed to appear like a single object, folded with a Canterbury Prickle edge that extends over the concealed gutters. “There is a lot of non-standard detailing and we worked together with Metalcraft Roofing to ensure the details are technically robust. It is strong because of the collaborative effort of many,” says Gilbertson.

The Lichen colour of the metal is not often specified for houses, but in this case it was chosen for its ability to merge with the natural landscape and with the colour of the canvas. “The Lichen sits beautifully in the environment,” says Gilbertson. “There is a matte softness to it, not unlike the foliage of kanuka and manuka. It also reflects the nostalgia of canvas tents, and with that, a relaxed atmosphere.”

The front and back faces of the building are clad in recycled timber taken from a demolished building in the city, a choice which was client-led. “The clients were very engaged with the project and invested much personal time and energy, which has contributed to its richness. They were keen to use natural materials, oils and finishes and driven to make environmentally sound and sustainable choices,” says Gilbertson.

Inside, the central building features a sofa seemingly carved from the timber-clad walls. A long narrow building, the space culminates in a picture window overlooking the ocean. The bedroom cabins have fireplaces and cosy nooks to escape the social areas. Showers are contained within the window frames, so the homeowners can feel as though they are showering outdoors.

Despite having to walk outside in all weathers to get to bed, the homeowners report to love their new home and the lifestyle it provides, close to nature and in touch with the elements and changing seasons.

Cheshire Architects: Design Philosophy

Everything we do is bespoke. We begin each relationship from its own core principles, and work closely alongside our clients to deliver projects that exceed their hopes, dreams and ambitions. Cheshire Architects delivers the sophistication of a boutique studio with the confident management of a highly experienced firm. 

Main contractor: 
Ramma Construction

Cheshire Architects, 
+64 9 358 2770,

Roofing Installer: 
Tactical Roofing
Telephone: Josh Mulligan 022 454 4440
Facebook: Tactical Roofing

Roofing/cladding Manufacturer: 
Metalcraft Roofing East Tamaki

©Jackie Meiring Photography