Nestled amongst native trees on a protected Peka Peka site, this special getaway by architect John Melhuish was a bit tricky to design
Q&A with John Melhuish of Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects
The Kāpiti district plan protects much of the bush site between the road and the house. Did this make for a difficult build?
No, but we had to be careful with the trees and it was a little tricky design-wise. The line where the protection ended wasn’t where it was supposed to be, so we had it surveyed to establish the drip line. We even managed to insert the house a little more into the mānuka and keep some of the key trees. We had initially thought that the large tree near the front door would have to go because it was going to block the entrance. The little deck at the front door was going to float out more into the space, but the client wanted to keep the tree. Now I like the idea that you sort of have to part the trees to come inside.
The home looks simple, but that’s deceptive isn’t it?
I’ll say one thing about the changes with the building code, you have to work a lot harder to achieve something to look as simple as glass doors sliding over the wall, and things like that.
You designed a pergola over the deck. Why?
I had a lot of debate with the clients over the pergola. He said ‘Can’t you just put some glass over it so we can sit out there?’ And I said ‘No, you don’t need to do that – just sit inside the house if it rains’. There is always that tension – how much use is a pergola? It also reduces heat gain in summer and allows light in winter.
The wooden handles on the sliding doors are a lovely touch. Did you design them?
Yes. Instead of spending $300 on handles, the joiner made them out of hardwood with white-tinted Resene Aquaclear wash, a really hardwearing paint. As architects, we always struggle with hardware and look for ways to do it differently.
Words by: Greg Dixon. Photography by: Andy Spain.