Kauri House Front exterior

Kauri House


Emily Smart / Context

1. Residential design award for single family dwelling

Photographed by: 
Hazel Redmond

The Kauri House renovation project presented a challenge to update and future-proof a cherished 1980s residence, while preserving its original warmth and character. Our clients, who have a love for African and Japanese cultures, desired a seamless fusion of the two design styles, whilst achieving a design that would celebrate the surrounding New Zealand landscape and maintain a unique Kiwi feel.

Drawing inspiration from a Japanese lantern, the house embraces warm timber interiors and dark timber exterior, simply forming a dark timber box that emanates a gentle glow from within. The folded origami-like exterior form elevates the overall design and allows it to open towards views to the west. The form is further accentuated by contrasting timber soffits, that visually signify entry and open to reveal a spacious interior.

To provide relief against the prominent Nero vertical timber façade, fluted U-glazing was introduced as a horizontal element. The glass acts as the lantern and spans, at first floor level, across the double height kitchen and into the master bedroom. During the day, the glass panels cast intriguing shadows of the surrounding trees, while at night, they glow softly, blending with the dark timber façade.

While visually the glazing creates a horizontal statement, the verticality of the U-channel profile seamlessly merges with the vertical timber exterior, and results in a cohesive and striking façade.

The interior showcases a harmonious blend of African and Japanese craftsmanship, the timber is the hero against cooler stone and concrete textures to celebrate the simplicity and the authenticity of material. Two contrasting timbers were chosen specifically to visually separate private and social spaces. Lighter Oak finishes, representative of a Japanese design aesthetic were used to indicate public and social spaces. Whilst darker Meranti timber, representative of earthen African design was used in the private master bedroom suite to create a more relaxing and tranquil space.

The living spaces within the home are seamlessly interconnected with timber features throughout, enabling smooth transitions between each space. A prime example is the carefully preserved living room nook, which serves as the heart of the original home and captures stunning amounts of afternoon light. This space has been enhanced with new oak panelling and soft furnishings. Adjacent to it, the living room has been transformed by raising the ceiling height, integrating a double height oak bookshelf, and keeping a mezzanine study that enables the space to effortlessly connect back to the kitchen, and dining area. Additionally, it seamlessly flows outward onto the timber deck, firepit, and picturesque natural surroundings.

Timber was employed extensively throughout the project, including the exterior façade, interior linings, joinery, fixed joinery, and decking, to reinforce a cohesive design aesthetic that produced a warm, inviting, and homely atmosphere.