Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Scoop Homes and Art 36 Contents 134 HOMES & ART AUTUMN 2013
Homes & interiors
New Zealan d | The memor y of trees
Architects Lance and Nicola Herbst discuss
this remarkable project.
What’s your favourite building material to work
with? Timber. We moved to New Zealan d from
South Africa – where the building code rarely
permits timber homes – over 15 yea rs ago.
We beca me fascinated with the New Zeala nd
bach idio m an d began a series of experiments
in timber that include a number of beautifully
crafted baches, o ne fo r o u rselves an d others for
a range of clients on Great Barrier Island.
So what made this project different to the other
baches you’ve designed? Ou r baches at Ba rrier
were exercises i n redu ction , refining the rituals
of daily living back to the bare essen tials. With ou r
work on the Barrier, we’re coming from a way of
living, w hereas Piha is a con ceptual respo nse.
The re moval of the trees, co mbin ed with the
own ers’ desire fo r ‘a little bit more’ than a si mple
bach, mean t we felt compelled to design a ho me
that was abo ut something greater than the beauty
of pari ng things back. It is a home dedicated to
beauty an d practicality in a lmo st equal measu re.
SUPPLIERS Herbst Architects (principal architects)
herbstarchitects.co.nz J onathan B oer sen Of Str uc tu re Design
(structural engineer) structuredesign.co .nz John Armstrong
(cont ractor) Stainless Design (stainless steel fabricator)
stainlessdesign.co .nz Heritage Tiles (Bisa z za glass mo saic
shower tiles) tiles.co.nz.
Also at this upper-level height, a light-
filled mezzanine walkway links the towers
and offers a daybed, and an opportunity
to enjoy a view across the treetops.
“It is also about letting as much light in
as possible, because being in the trees can
be a melancholic experience,” Nicola says,
something that’s particularly true in the
dense New Zealand forest.
Despite its intricate and sympathetic
nature, this is not an apologetic home.
“It has such a strong spirit of site or sense
of place that it seemed natural to respond
to it in this way,” says Nicola. “There’s a
poetry in reduction, but in this case the
environment was so close that a purely
pragmatic response was never going to
do justice to what we had to do to make
the building happen.”
With this project, the Herbsts admit
they have taken a creative leap into more
experimental territory, a risk that has
clearly paid off. “It’s certainly a milestone,”
Lance says. “We have reached a level of
confidence to allow a concept to drive
a building right through to the smallest
details, and to take on something of this
technical complexity and not be daunted
by it. We’d reached a point where it was,
‘OK, let’s give this our best shot’. The
planets had just aligned: the clients, the
brief, the site. It was unhindered all
the way through.”
While it is earthy, even raw, ‘basic’
would be the wrong label. With an extensive
use of natural materials and a tender
embrace of its site, it certainly lays out
the best of the beach house vernacular,
while simultaneously providing the level
of comfort and amenity now expected from
a contemporary house. Herbst Architects
have created a sophisticated design
offering, which fosters many of the widely
held aspirations of Kiwi architects.
09 A view through the Pohutukawa branches
into the home’s living pavilion.
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