On a show-stopping site near the Whangarei Heads, Herbst Architects create a holiday home for a family of four that could house 30 people
Design Notebook, Q&A with architects Nicola and Lance Herbst
You had a prescribed building platform for this home on the ridge. How did you go about developing the design for it?
Lance Herbst We made an early decision to separate the cars from the house.
Nicola Herbst And we identified the journey, a 70-metre walk to the house.
Lance We didn’t want that impossible thing to deal with – a car right there.
Nicola We reinstated the existing track to create a journey through the house to the beach.
This is also an exposed site, but with fantastic views in all directions…
Lance It’s so rich in view in all directions that it’s almost awkward, so we tried to use the house as a viewfinder to crop views, edit out certain areas, focus your view to certain areas. Regarding the exposure, we’ve found there’s no such thing as a prevailing wind condition in summer. The demands on these baches in terms of creating spaces that get away from the wind are more and more difficult. The strategy is to have two decks and even those decks need layers.
We play with what’s inside and what’s outside to create a different experience to the city, that strong engagement with nature, that feeling of being forced outside to go to the bathrooms. It was also important that the building had a lightness. We didn’t want to put a heavy building on a site that is a fragile environment. Practically and visually, you want a building that sits as lightly as possible.
You’ve worked a lot in the bach genre. Is this house an extension of that work?
Lance It’s a distillation of all of this work that we keep doing with inside and outside space. This project has distilled it down to something concentrated. It’s a very strong articulation between inside and outside in one way, but in another way it’s almost the opposite. It’s another chapter in a book. [Architecture is] a slow game.
Photos by: Patrick Reynolds.