Piha, Auck­land


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Af­ter a mad dash around a few projects in cen­tral Auck­land, we vis­ited Piha at the end of our first day of judg­ing. There was traf­fic on the North Western mo­tor­way at 4pm, which be­mused Mel Bright of MAKE Ar­chi­tec­ture, our guest judge from Melbourne. When we headed over the Waitakere Ranges, she went quiet as she ob­served the view from the ridge over­look­ing Piha beach and Lion Rock.

‘Kawakawa House’ by Lance and Ni­cola Herbst sits back from the beach in a glade of es­tab­lished pōhutukawa. Apart from ci­cadas in the trees, it’s a quiet and con­tem­pla­tive spot.

The house holds back the view as you climb the cen­tral spi­ral stair­case and emerge into the liv­ing area, which feels like a cov­ered deck slung up in the trees. When we ar­rived, it was 5pm, the sun was just start­ing to set and a golden glow washed through the house. Back in the pri­vate ar­eas of the home, the light was fil­tered and dark in the bed­rooms and bath­rooms.

Judges’ com­ments “A cross be­tween a tree house and a ma­chine for liv­ing, per­haps it’s a de­vice for con­tem­plat­ing na­ture. It com­bines con­cep­tual clar­ity and pre­cise ex­e­cu­tion with the un­usual qual­ity of be­ing au­ton­o­mous, yet em­pa­thetic with its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.”

Pro­ject ‘Kawakawa House’ Prac­tice Herbst Ar­chi­tects Lo­ca­tion Piha, West Auck­land

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