A Sleek Modern Home In Rural Whangarei

A Whangarei couple, brimming with ideas for a home they would build on an elevated, private site near Quarry Gardens, ensured their love of art and native birdlife would be incorporated in the design but also that four totara trees on the build site would be removed and then harvested for inclusion in aspects of their new home. 

The brief to architectural designer Matt Andrew was for a contemporary, modern house featuring two distinct inter-connecting blocks made up of a master wing and a guest wing to have Airbnb suite business capability to support the return on investment. 

The owners needed “class” with featured rectangular shape and structures with effective utilisation of space but keeping within a reasonable budget.  Black box shaped pods with timber accents, three bedrooms each with a private bathroom in the master wing and lots of glass to bring in the rural northerly views from the 2080m2 site in Kensington Heights, Whangarei. 

The pods were to be arranged in a way that each living and Airbnb area felt private and the build was to be nestled into its landscape and the contours of the section. 

Working closely with owners Jamie Lorton and Andrea Schmuck, architectural designer Matt Andrew of Architecture North Ltd progressed the project through multiple stages before reaching a final design, issues such as ground contour, vegetation and mature trees influencing the views, height restrictions and services all dictating how the design would be achieved.

Says Matt: “On meeting Jamie and Andrea we discussed the fundamental aspects they were looking for in a new home such as how they wanted the house to function.  Large openings were used to capture the northern rural views along with strategic positioning of windows to capture specific site features. The window positioning also provided privacy to the occupants between the spaces.

“Bold lines and cantilevers were used on both levels to provide shelter and maintain architectural aesthetic. Cedar features were used to soften the dark mass of profiled metal.  COLORSTEEL® Endura in Kahu Flaxpod matte was chosen as the primary cladding for its economy and low maintenance.

“Glass balustrades complemented the design providing that ultra-modern look but maintaining the connection to the rural outlook without masses of timber or aluminium detracting from the views. The pod layout worked well with the contour of the site and each space captured the rural northerly outlook while maintaining privacy between the spaces. 

“Relating the indoor to the outdoor was important for the design:  large doors opening from the living, dining and all three bedrooms plus one for the intended Airbnb, onto the decks means occupants can flow seamlessly between these spaces”.

An inspired feature of this home relates to a stand of the native conifer totara trees within the building footprint, four of which had to be removed. The durable timber was utilised by Matt, to be milled, dried and included within the design providing timber accents to the interior. Circular openings in the exterior wing walls have been lined with harvested totara timber to conceal the flashings and the interior of the home features totara on the treads of stairs throughout the house and on shelving. 140mm thick timber wall frames were utilised to provide better thermal performance – to help counter the effects of heating from dark colours, and to add depth. Noise reducing gib boardings throughout the downstairs sections of the build has been included to further enhance the privacy of guests in the Airbnb. Garapa timber decking was used on the north facing decks while the cantilevers from the upper floor provide some shade and protection from the elements. 

A local fabricator was engaged to manufacture custom rolled stainless steel flashings for durability of the high-risk round openings in the exterior wing walls.  Structural steel was concealed within the building structure to provide the strength required to support the cantilevers and to give bracing to the areas where there are high amounts of glazing. 

Roofing and Cladding

Metalcraft Roofing’s Kahu profile in COLORSTEEL® Endura matte was chosen over traditional corrugate due to its deeper profile and because the owners liked its look – bolder, strong shadow lines - and practicality in dealing with some of the tricky widths at the sliding door openings.  The owners also changed the direction of the western red cedar cladding from horizontal to vertical to keep with the lines of the Kahu profile and to maintain the appearance of height over contrasting the different lines of each pod. 

Art enthusiasts, Jamie and Andrea have included four accent feature walls in each bedroom site, dining area and front entrance in a Modern Art Green/Blue wallpaper RASCH 490091 chosen to highlight three elements.-

It is close to the colour of the native Tui’s that live on the section

The tuis inspired the splashback in the kitchen designed by young Kiwi artist TAMAASA featuring tui, and monarch butterflies

The Lorton’s David Bromley artworks including Zippora Seven (butterflies and daisies) with accents of Tui blue-green – also pulling the entire theme together

The home sits below the tree line for most of Kensington so has a very private feel with neighbours on only two sides and both behind the living areas so will not obstruct the views from the front of the house. 

Says Jamie Lorton: “There were several key requirements for this build and the architectural designer Matt absolutely nailed those requirements with the design he produced which included all the elements we wanted with only minor adjustments to the original drafts for technical or practical reasons.

“We enjoyed the experience of working with the builder, Bruce McQueen in fact together with Matt from Architecture North we formed a cohesive trio at every stage of the build. The bathrooms are a feature – all three having matching fit-outs featuring Kaleido Nero natural porcelain floor tiles on the shower floors and walls to ceiling height and stylish, polished white tiles to complement.  All tapware is brushed nickel finish.”

Architecture North

Architecture North is a boutique architectural studio based in Whangarei, offering an end-to-end design and drafting service to projects of all sizes and budgets. It prides itself on providing quality bespoke and tailored solutions, utilising quality materials to provide robust and quality architecture. Our objective is to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible for its clients.

Architecture North Limited
Architectural Designer, Matt Andrew
Mobile: 021 143 3340

Main Contractor
Bruce McQueen Carpenters
Mobile: 027 277 1020

Roofing/Cladding Manufacturer
Metalcraft Roofing
COLORSTEEL® Endura Flaxpod Matte

Roofing Installer
Douglas Roofing
Mobile: 021 892 770