De­sign note­book

Q&A with ar­chi­tect Ni­cola Herbst of Herbst Ar­chi­tects

HOME Magazine NZ - - Design Notebook -

A size­able por­tion of the site falls un­der the pro­tec­tion of a Sig­nif­i­cant Eco­log­i­cal Area (SEA), which pro­tects in­dige­nous bio­di­ver­sity. How did that in­flu­ence your de­sign? Es­sen­tially, no build­ing work is al­lowed in an SEA, so to some ex­tent this af­fected the shape of the foot­print. The place­ment and shape of the two struc­tures – the garage and house – were also in­flu­enced by our de­sire to keep as many nikau as pos­si­ble. Those we did have to re­move were re­placed with im­ported nikau – we ne­go­ti­ated this with the coun­cil. The shape of the build­ing was also a re­sponse to the views. The house cranks and cranes its neck to get the view of the sweet spot. The top floor win­dows are like the eyes of binoc­u­lars fo­cus­ing on the waves be­low. What as­pects of the build­ing did you find most chal­leng­ing and/or re­ward­ing? Find­ing ways that the old trees could live side by side with the new in­ter­ven­tion, and to en­sure as few trees as pos­si­ble were re­moved. Where the nikau are very close to the build­ing, we’ve held them in place with a tim­ber spacer bracket to stop the trunks knock­ing against the house when the wind gets up. You saw this as a pro­ject with which to ex­plore the ‘skin’, rather than the ‘bones’ of a build­ing – why the shift? In many of our baches, we’ve devel­oped an ar­chi­tec­tural lan­guage of clar­ity of struc­ture – a leg­i­ble as­sem­bly of struc­tural mem­bers that can be de­scribed as ex­press­ing the bones of the build­ing. But as the build­ing code has been ratch­eted up since the leaky homes cri­sis, along with the cost of labour and ma­te­ri­als, we’ve felt the need to ex­plore other more af­ford­able forms of ar­chi­tec­tural ex­pres­sion. In Muri­wai, we’ve done just that, cladding the build­ing in a taut skin of tim­ber. We might have cho­sen this ex­pres­sion re­gard­less of the need to keep costs in check, though, as a re­sponse to vis­ual com­plex­ity of the bush, with its flora of slen­der trunks topped with cross-hatched fronds.

1. En­try 2. Liv­ing 3. WC 4. Laun­dry/store 5. Kitchen 6. Deck 7. Din­ing 8. Garage 9. Bed­room 10. Bath­room 11. Study/guest 12. En­suite

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