Sim­ple plea­sures

An el­e­gant cabin on the West Coast feels like a plat­form in the bush, thanks to floor-to-ceil­ing slid­ing doors by Altherm.

HOME Magazine NZ - - Design Notebook - Pho­tog­ra­phy David Straight

The own­ers of this cabin near Pu­nakaiki on the West Coast of the South Is­land spent years on the prop­erty be­fore they asked ar­chi­tect James War­ren, of Upoko Ar­chi­tects, to de­sign them a small but sharp cabin in a nikau for­est. “When they bought and in­hab­ited the site, they carved rooms out of it, so the 'walls' were al­ready there,” says War­ren. “They had a clear­ing for liv­ing, a clear­ing for bathing and one for cook­ing, so it was kind of a room in the for­est.” War­ren’s de­sign had to fit into one of those small rooms: a six-by-six me­tre cabin, with a solid top for sleep­ing and an al­most trans­par­ent bot­tom level; the top floor looks very much like it’s float­ing in the bush. “We didn’t want to make a room within a room,” says the ar­chi­tect. “The spa­ces were al­ready in­ti­mate and it was nice to just put the glass in place and con­tinue to live there.” The join­ery was man­u­fac­tured by Altherm Win­dow Sys­tems' lo­cal man­u­fac­turer De­sign Win­dows West Coast. The sim­ple but dra­matic de­sign rested on small but per­fectly ex­e­cuted de­tails – fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory for Altherm, which spon­sors this mag­a­zine’s Home of the Year award and has a long his­tory of work­ing with ar­chi­tects to come up with in­no­va­tive de­sign so­lu­tions. Down­stairs, War­ren in­stalled an­odised sil­ver APL Ar­chi­tec­tural Se­ries slid­ing doors. Thanks to flush sills, they re­cede to open the liv­ing ar­eas up to the bush. Even with the doors closed, the room has the feel­ing of a plat­form in the bush. Up­stairs, where cedar cladding and ply­wood lin­ings of­fer a sense of re­treat and en­clo­sure, care­fully placed open­ings us­ing Altherm’s Metro Se­ries (also in an­odised sil­ver) bring in stag­ger­ing views of nearby nikau and dis­tant lime­stone bluffs. The ma­te­ri­als pro­vide durable pro­tec­tion against the coastal and bush el­e­ments. The dwelling is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of how the most sim­ple things can some­times tran­spire to be the most el­e­gant. “The own­ers used to have a van and they’d park it there with the awning up,” re­calls War­ren. “When I sit there now it feels just like that.”

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