Wyuna Bay House 

Having grown up spending his summers holidaying on the Coromandel Peninsula, Daniel Smith had been on the lookout in the area for a section to build on for a while.  When his father spotted sections for sale in a subdivision at Wyuna Bay, Daniel and his wife Daisy took a closer look.  

They initially made an offer on a flatter site but when that fell through, they managed to secure a neighbouring section on the ridge top. 
The spectacular site has views to one side of Coromandel Harbour and to the other side – looking northwest – of Long Bay. While providing great views, the site also presented challenges with its steep terrain.  

Daniel says that after speaking to the engineer who had done the geotech report for the subdivision, he was happy any issues could be overcome. The solution was to build a retaining wall with 12.5m deep piles to create a building platform.  

When it came to the design of their home, Daniel and his wife Daisy liked the modern stylings of Queenstown-based Kerr Ritchie Architects. Between them, the couple produced a comprehensive brief for the architects aimed at creating a home that was sustainable without sacrificing comfort.  

They also wanted a home that was in harmony with its environment and their family lifestyle. High-ceilinged, open plan living spaces that transitioned easily to outdoor entertaining were also part of the brief, and they wanted their two children to share a bathroom and have their own playspace.  

Pete Ritchie, of Kerr Ritchie Architects, said a site visit set them up with ideas for various concepts and gave them an awareness of the challenges involved.  “There were a few engineering issues with the site in terms of geotech and stabilising the site but nothing major. We wanted to put the house into the land as much as possible and that is where the wedge shape came into play.”  

Daniel said that once he and Daisy had settled on a concept, it was a matter of “tweaking and tweaking” until they had what they wanted.  

“We were living in China at the time so a lot of it was done via Skype with the architects,” said Daniel. “The plan was to get it built while we were in China and have it finished by the time we got back but that never happened.”  Peter Ritchie said the layout of the home was configured to make the most of the sun and the views to the northwest, and a cut-out in the structure helped to create a sheltered outdoor space.  

He said the dark colours of the cladding and roofing also helped to tie the home into the landscape.  “We’ve done quite a lot of dark-stained buildings because they look recessive in the dark green native bush landscapes of New Zealand.”  

Daniel said he loves the shape of the home, with the wedge shape reminding him of a space shuttle landing. The ‘nose’ of the house forms an overhang to create a carport and tucked behind that is the garage, which Daniel has set up with gadgets such as a projector screen and a virtual reality headset.  While Daniel loves his gadgets, he and Daisy were also determined to have a house as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible.  

At the heart of that is a solar generation system that feeds into a Tesla Power Wall that the home can draw on at night or during cloudy days. The home is hooked up to the grid so it can either draw power if needed or feed it with any extra solar generation.  

Daniel says the 38 solar panels on the roof provide a 10kW system that supplies 300 per cent of the home’s power usage on a sunny day. The home has all electric appliances, including heaters. Once they had settled on their design, the couple employed local builder Steve Wilson to make their plans a reality.  

“Steve has built about 40 houses along this road,” says Daniel. “He lives here and has a great reputation.”  And it was Steve who suggested that Daniel and Daisy could “save a bunch of money on the roof” by going with long-run over other materials.   

The couple opted for Trimrib® in ‘Ironsand’ to give them the modern look they were after.  “We wanted robust roofing with the solar panels up there because they might need cleaning so we wanted a roof you could walk around on,” says Daniel. “Plus that style of roofing has nice modern lines and goes well with the dark-stained vertical cedar cladding.” 

While the roofing job itself was straightforward, getting the materials to site was a bit more problematic. At the time, the Thames coast was closed to trucks due to slips on the road so the Roofing Industries rep. had to meet the truck in Thames and offload the roofing onto a trailer and drive it up the coast to Coromandel from there.

Then on site there was a tight hairpin bend where sheets had to be offloaded by hand and walked up the hill the rest of the way to the site – about 300m.   Daniel said the steel cages for the foundations also had to be assembled on site because of the same access issues.   

When it came to the interiors, the couple wanted lots of storage and a simple layout and colour palette. The home has predominantly wooden floors in the main living areas with some wooden ceilings and walls. The bathrooms and bedrooms get more adventurous colour treatments. The kitchen’s glossy white cabinetry was made in China then shipped over here for assembly.  

The couple’s bedroom, on the top level, has floor to ceiling windows to capture the views, with a standalone bath sitting in front of one of those windows.  

Daniel says part of the sustainability plan was to have a Tesla electric car in the garage but there was no money left over after the house was finished.   
“We might have been a bit optimistic about what it was going to cost us but we have no regrets.”  

Kerr Richie Architects  
Kerr Ritchie is a Queenstown-based, mixed-discipline studio focused on an integrated and collaborative design process. The studio has extensive experience in architecture, landscape architecture, and resource planning.  

The architects say, “We respond to the parameters of site condition, brief and budget to develop designs that attempt to sculpt interior, exterior space and land form into a flexible and efficient whole. Our goal is to develop innovative solutions that achieve maximum design value for our client.  

“We are committed to making buildings and landscapes that maximise the experience of place and improve the quality of life of the people who use them.”  

Architects:  Kerr Richie Architects
Telephone: 03-441 4513  
Roofing: Trimrib® TS .55 COLORSTEEL® MAXX® in ‘Ironsand’   
Roofing installer: Peninsular Roofing and Scaffolding
Mobile: 027 443 0934  
Roofing supplier: Roofing Industries (Waikato) Ltd, 
Telephone: 07 849 5115   
Builder: Steve Wilson Design and Build
Mobile: 027 488 7688