Set in a rural paradise: Kowhai House maximises its unique setting

It sits on the crest of a hill, overlooking valleys with Mount Taranaki and the Kaitake Ranges in a direct line of sight and the Tasman Sea in the distance: Kowhai House, with its views in all directions, maximises the experience of the green hues of this undulating rural Taranaki site. 

Reflecting the owner’s artistic talent, the brief was for a highly personalised, functional home, enabling Ardern Peters Architects Ltd to pay homage to the mountainous backdrop by providing dramatic, light-filled interiors to capture the stunning landscape.

The owners  had fallen in love with the location, overlooking native bush which they have augmented by planting additional native trees on most of their land – 4000 so far.

Their brief to the designers was for connected rooms, an open plan that retains some separate spaces, wide corridors for the circulation spaces and an uncluttered, elegant and light home.

Kowhai House has three bedrooms, two living spaces and a home office with abundant framed viewpoints and sheltered out door spaces. The high performance, low maintenance home achieves the project team’s objectives for climate control, energy efficiency and value engineering features.
Good insulation and solar gain in winter – cooling in summer – were prerequisites and the owners had stipulated use of a variety of textures (floor tiles, ply and wall tiles) with windows to capture the different outlooks and views available – rather like pictures of the home’s setting – but retaining wall space for book shelves and artworks.

The home has a minimal, clean interior with tiled floors, plaster and stained ply and flush panelled joinery, the finishes being intentionally subdued to emphasise the form and effect of natural light.

Nestling the home in its unique environment, the roof form and use of bold colours provides a strong silhouette along the ridgeline, the roof peaks referencing the mountain ranges with complex detailing to merge roof forms with finished profile metal installed vertically and horizontally to create a textured façade.

A key feature of the home is the metal cladding, Colorsteel® Endura® in Kowhai Glow and New Denim Blue on the walls and Colorsteel® Endura® Veedek® in Tui-tuft on the roof. Chosen for its sharp lines, the metal cladding creates strong blocks of colour and contrast of texture.

Instead of being surface mounted, the rainwater heads have been incorporated into the fascia line, Kowhai House featuring a singular, asymmetrical roof with a consistent ridgeline and eave breaks and the entrance to the home and the carport.

The “peak” windows have been evenly spaced to full height with an even larger “peak” window to capture the view of Mt Taranaki in one direction and the ocean to the other.

The footprint for the home consists of both functional and site-specific conditions: views south and west to the mountains and the valley and the sea to the north, weather protection provided throughout.

Sustainability and innovative materials
Ardern Peters Architects have optimised the building environment on this rural home by optimising energy efficient systems, undertaking environmental modelling and life cycle value engineering leading to construction embracing the client’s need for fully thermally broken concrete slab to multi-layered envelope insulation. Technology monitors and controls mechanical, heating and lighting systems via a suite of environmental performance indicators, some refinements to the systems being implemented after testing post occupancy.

These special features for the Kowhai House include. -

  • Highly insulated house to maximise thermal performance, including multi-layered ceiling insulation
  • A custom, fully thermally isolated floor slab to prevent thermal bridging
  • Wireless-smart technology to monitor building performance
  • Deep eave overhangs sized from solar modelling to limit summer sun and to maximise solar gain in winter
  • Hopper-type window system as part of effective cross ventilation
  • Interior thermally isolated to the exterior: floor slab, wall and ceiling systems, aluminium joinery and high-performance glazing
  • Perforated ceiling – acoustics
  • Low maintenance materials
  • Hydronic heat pump sourced under floor heating

Kowhai House owners love the peaked and triangular windows along the bedroom corridor, providing a tall view of Mt Taranaki – when it shows itself. They’ve also loved viewing fantastic rainbows, stars and cloud-scapes from their elevated location. Yet more rewarding features are the grass-green doors along the bedroom corridor, the acoustic ply ceiling in the living space and the white roof – sitting satisfyingly well above the coloured metal walls. 


Ardern Peters Architects Limited
Established in 2000, the New Plymouth based practice has grown to become one of the largest in
Taranaki, reflecting the high level of service provided and customer satisfaction. Four directors are
“hands on”, operating in a collaborative setting with support from eight talented staff. The firm
undertakes work across New Zealand in the commercial, education, child care, aged care and
residential sectors.
Ardern Peters Architects Ltd
New Plymouth
Telephone: 06 759 2190
Kowhai House Project Team:
Jeff Salisbury, Stefan Pirie
Main Contractor:
Hofmans Builders Ltd
New Plymouth
Telephone: 06 757 8931
Roofing and Wall Cladding Manufacturer:
Dimond Roofing
Walls: Colorsteel Endura
Profile: LT7 horizontally and vertically installed
Colour: Kowhai Glow and New Denim Blue
Roof: Colorsteel Endura
Profile: Veedek
Colour: Tui-tuft
Roofing and Cladding Installer:
Farnsworth Roofing
Telephone: 06 758 1445
Photo Credit:
Chris Hill Photography