Sat, August 18, 2012

‘Under Pohutukawa’ House // Herbst Architects


Part of a continuous forest belt that edges a beach front road, this site was extremely challenging, with 90% coverage with mature pohutukawa trees. The circumstances dictated a sensitive poetic response in a building that, in order to exist, would require a number of mature trees to be removed. To do this the architects looked to the trees themselves to give them the cues that they needed.

Separating the brief into private / public elements articulated the forms. The private functions of bedrooms and garage are housed in two towers, construed as freshly-sawn stumps of removed trees, and linked by an upper-level walkway. Mimicing the bark of the stumps, the tower are clad in black/brown stained rough-sawn, irregular battens. Interior spaces are conceived as being carved out of the freshly-cut wood, achieved by detailing wall, ceiling and cabinetry in identical light timber.

The public space connects the towers, engaging the surrounding pohutukawa forest by defining a crossover space between the powerful natural environment and the built form. The plane of the roof form pins off the towers to engage the continuous tree canopy, disintegrating from rigid plane to frayed edge, filtering light like a leaf canopy. The primary structure supporting the roof is a series of tree elements, referencing tree trunks and branches, but detailed in a rigorous geometric arrangement suggesting an ordering of nature as it enters and forms the building.

Via Herbst Architects








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