Habitus House of the Year 2018 – Hahei House

Photography by Simon Devitt

Habitus Magazine marks its 10 year anniversary this year and are celebrating with the launch of an annual awards programme to recognise and celebrate the most outstanding examples of residential architecture in the Indo-Pacific region.

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 going to be sharing a few of my favourites from the New Zealand contingent, kicking off with this sunbathing beauty, Hahei House by Studio 2 Architects.

These windows slide right back, completely opening the home to the ocean like the prow of a ship
(Also, WOW suspended fireplace)

Simplicity and super clean lines in the kitchen belie a very (very) cleverly planned, super-functional space designed to host large groups, with integrated appliances and plenty o’ practicality (side-by-side ovens, for example)

The ‘night lounge’ opens out to a sheltered courtyard with massive fireplace, and behind this outdoor room is a second courtyard with a hot tub and garden. 

Polished concrete floors have the look of dappled sand, don’t you think?
(The print here is by NZ fine art photographer Kate van der Drift)

Using the American Oak everywhere brings a simplicity and substance, but I love how they’ve changed up its form in some places (like here, acting as stair balusters) to bring texture and interest.

The landscaping effectively melds the site right into the dunes – so pretty

Sliding cedar shutters stack away, allowing the house to respond to different weather and the need for privacy 

Glass Balustrades let the views stretch before you, unimpeded 

Photography by Simon Devitt

The first thing that strikes me about this house is how low-key its presence on the beachfront is. Looking up from the sand, you really don’t have a clue of the building’s true size – it has been designed in deference to the dunes, which disguise both its two-storey height and its depth. And while its angular form offers stunning contrast with the organic curves of the sand dunes, the exterior materials chosen pull back and soften that contrast. The grey-stained cedar, sandstone and light grey roofing all share a sort of sun-bleached, salt-weathered tone – like the house is a beautifully silvered piece of driftwood.

What I love most about this home is the interior palette. All those sand tones and natural textures deliver a very muted aesthetic that refuses to compete with those views, allowing your eyes to soften and your gaze to be drawn outward to the ocean.  It’s a very restful design; no visual noise. The solid American Oak  – on floors, walls, ceilings and bespoke joinery – brings real warmth, and gives the feel of the interior of a boat or cabin. (Perhaps, too, its also a small nod to the home that sat here first, a classic timber-lined Lockwood). Imagine visiting here during a wild winter storm… laying in that honeyed lounge, the suspended fire roaring, the sea and sky raging grey outside…

The space planning is very clever here. Paul Clarke and his Studio 2 team have achieved something greater than the sum of its parts, creating different wings and zones for different occasions and different times of day. So even with the house happily heaving with visiting friends and family, there’s still quiet spaces to retreat and relax. So that it’s big enough for a crowd, but intimate enough for two on a weekend escape.

Pretty easy to see why this home was selected as a Habitus House of the Year 2018.
Like to vote for it to win People’s Choice? Do it for your country! Go to habitusliving.com/houseoftheyear
(Actually, just do it because this home is amazing – and I’ll be bringing you a couple of other amazing New Zealand contenders in the coming weeks, too…)

© The New