Habitus Magazine celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year and, to mark the milestone, have founded an annual awards programme to recognise outstanding examples of residential architecture.
The inaugural Habitus House of the Year (2018) presents 25 homes that are exemplary embodiments of how the region lives through design, and includes five New Zealand homes amongst the honours.
I’m partnering with Habitus to share some of the New Zealand finalists with you. We’ve been to the beach (Hahei House by Studio 2 Architects) and the city (339 House by Strachan Group Architects), and now we’re out in the countryside with Point Wells House, designed by Paterson Architecture Collective and Steven Lloyd Architecture.
This Omaha home’s owners requested a gabled-roof farmhouse for their idyllic country setting. The resulting home is one that honours rural tradition and nostalgia, while offering beautifully modern, minimalistic details that make the rustic, refined.
It has the vocab of a simple barn, striking a bold silhouette with that iconic 45-degree gable roof. It’s raised off the paddock on piles, in the manner of a classic rural shed. And the cedar weatherboards look like they could’ve been here as long as the huge old macrocarpa trees… But, look closely, and the contemporary details start to shine.
Like those thin steel-boxed windows, did you spot those? Or the fact that there are no bargeboards. Look again – I love this detail. In fact, there are no fascia boards or soffits, either. And those weatherboards, they actually graduate in size, steadily getting wider as they reach the roof.
Inside, it’s top to toe timber, with dark stained oak floorboards, and walls and ceilings clad in rough sawn South Island Beech. I’d end up needing to see an Osteo if I lived here, I’d be staring up at those amazing trusses all day (I especially love the exposed bolts and the steel tension rods – shearing shed chic).
Today’s aesthetic is for super light, bright, open spaces – but here, the architects have sought to create beauty with shadows and dappled light. They’ve been very deliberate with the amount and intensity of light the house lets in, creating depth and drama in quiet spaces, and illuminating others (I love how they’ve accentuated the trusses with skylights in the great room).
It reminds me a little of an old rural church. Have you ever been inside one of those New Zealand colonial chapels? They have those tall, grand cathedral ceilings, but with a relatively long, narrow volume, few windows and timber interior, they’re also very restful and intimate.
The home is made up of three of these barn buildings – one has a garage and guest house, while the other two form the house proper. The west barn houses a great room (with massive poured-concrete fireplace), kitchen, scullery and laundry, while the east barn has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study and another living room.
A long boardwalk passes almost through both pavilions, connecting the east and west ‘wings’ through their living spaces and creating a beautiful big outdoor room between them.
Having three distinct buildings, connected through pathways, gardens, porches and courtyards, gives the site a village-like feel, and creates multiple outdoor spaces, so no matter the time of day or the direction of the wind vane, you can find a sunny, still spot to sit.
Other aspects I noticed and loved:
Those tall, narrow casement windows, with bronze hardware by NZ company Chant; the simple poured concrete steps into the house – more of that shearing shed chic; how the kitchen actually sits within a timber box at one end of the Great Room; and the simple form of the two poured-concrete chimneys. Also, look, I dream of a modern black barn as much as the next woman, but I really love that they didn’t choose black for this beautiful home.
To see all the Habitus House of the Year 2018 finalists, visit habitusliving.com/houseoftheyear
You can also vote for this home – or another favourite – to win People’s Choice. Vote here.