Hikuai Hill House

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Designed for former city-dwelling clients, who had just spent two years cycling through Europe and realised they enjoyed a life of simplicity, this house was conceived as a place of connection with the land. 

Perched on a knoll overlooking sleepy farmland and an alluvial valley, the site chosen to build on has unobstructed views to the west where the Kauaeranga Valley meets The Pinnacles and to the east where the Tairua River cuts through the valley and winds towards the sea. 

“The clients had always lived in cities but they had a dream to own a small block of land and live off that land as much as they could,” architect Sam Atcheson says.

When the site was purchased, there were existing vegetable gardens and mature fruit and nut trees but there had never been a permanent dwelling on the site, just a caravan and a shed. 

“It’s a beautiful spot but quite isolated and one that often has extreme weather. Sometimes they get flooding that cuts off road access to their property. Often, it’s quite foggy in the mornings and you have to expect all weather conditions in one day.

“With both clients able to work from home, the design had to accommodate an office area and room for a growing family—when we designed the house, it was for the clients and their one year old daughter but they have since had another daughter—as well as provide as much connection with the land and views as possible.”

To that end, two rectangular structures, one clad in long run steel and the other in larch, are laid across the site. “These structures house three bedrooms, two bathrooms, the laundry and study and are oriented towards the view of The Pinnacles in one direction and the length of the Tairua River winding towards the sea in the other.”

A floating gabled roof encloses a central pavilion containing the public spaces of the kitchen, dining and living area with a covered deck that extends out to the west and is enclosable with large, sliding barn-style doors. 

“Sheds, barns and rural buildings were used as the key inspiration for this home, which have a prevalence of horizontal timber and metal cladding as well as gable forms so that inspiration informed both the material choices and the form of the house.”

Above the central covered deck, a cedar batten ceiling conceals a translucent roofing sheet, allowing dappled light into the area when the sun is high. A concrete terrace on the eastern side of the house provides an alternative option for outdoor living—when the main deck is impacted by weather conditions—and a strong connection with the vegetable gardens.

“The design process involved numerous conversations about the location of the vegetable gardens and how produce would make its way from the garden, through processing and into the kitchen; access via a back door to the butler’s pantry fulfilled this requirement,” Sam says.

Internally, an exposed concrete slab is combined with simple materials dominated by timber with a whitewashed ply ceiling with negative detailing to accentuate the panel pattern, while the full height kitchen cabinetry utilises gaboon ply with cedar handles; details that unite the exterior cladding and interior spaces.

“The modest scale of the internal spaces was driven by the clients who were motivated to live more minimally on and from the land.”

The footprint of the house is small and carefully considered; each space is big enough for its purpose, but no bigger than it needs to be.

Words: Clare Chapman

Images: Emma-Jane Hetherington

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Perched on a knoll overlooking sleepy farmland and an alluvial valley, the site looks out to The Pinnacles and to the Tairua River.
This house is comprised of two rectangular structures, one clad in larch while the other in long run steel. 
A floating gabled roof encloses a central pavillion containing the public spaces of the house, the kitchen, dining and living area from which a covered deck extends out to the west. 
Taking cues from the rural vernacular of farm buildings, in both structure and materiality, the house is simple and uncomplicated, designed to sit lightly on the land.
A sliding door clad in larch was envisioned as a barn-style door, designed to move across both outdoor area and lounge wall to provide a versatile level of shelter as required.
Seamless connection with the land was a key driver for the design.
A cedar batten ceiling conceals a translucent roofing sheet above the deck that allows dappled light into the area when the sun is high. 
Looking out to The Pinnacles, this covered deck is one of two outdoor living options offering close connection to the land and views. 
An exposed concrete slab is combined with simple materials dominated by timber with a whitewashed ply ceiling.
Negative detailing in the ceiling accentuates the panel pattern. 
Views are carefully framed with full height glazing. 
Timber cabinetry with cedar handles highlights the connection between external and internal material palettes.
Simple functionality and natural, durable materials were specified for the kitchen. 
Views from the living area to the west, towards The Pinnacles.
Like the rest of the house, the bathroom is defined by a simple, natural material palette. 
The barn-style doors allow for protection from sun and the elements.
Perched on a knoll, the house is in a particularly isolated location, which is often cut off from the roads by flooding and extreme weather events.

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Hikuai Hill House

Designed for former city-dwelling clients, who had just spent two years cycling through Europe and realised they enjoyed a life of simplicity, this house was conceived as a place of connection with the land. 

Perched on a knoll overlooking sleepy farmland and an alluvial valley, the site chosen to build on has unobstructed views to the west where the Kauaeranga Valley meets The Pinnacles and to the east where the Tairua River cuts through the valley and winds towards the sea. 

“The clients had always lived in cities but they had a dream to own a small block of land and live off that land as much as they could,” architect Sam Atcheson says.

When the site was purchased, there were existing vegetable gardens and mature fruit and nut trees but there had never been a permanent dwelling on the site, just a caravan and a shed. 

“It’s a beautiful spot but quite isolated and one that often has extreme weather. Sometimes they get flooding that cuts off road access to their property. Often, it’s quite foggy in the mornings and you have to expect all weather conditions in one day.

“With both clients able to work from home, the design had to accommodate an office area and room for a growing family—when we designed the house, it was for the clients and their one year old daughter but they have since had another daughter—as well as provide as much connection with the land and views as possible.”

To that end, two rectangular structures, one clad in long run steel and the other in larch, are laid across the site. “These structures house three bedrooms, two bathrooms, the laundry and study and are oriented towards the view of The Pinnacles in one direction and the length of the Tairua River winding towards the sea in the other.”

A floating gabled roof encloses a central pavilion containing the public spaces of the kitchen, dining and living area with a covered deck that extends out to the west and is enclosable with large, sliding barn-style doors. 

“Sheds, barns and rural buildings were used as the key inspiration for this home, which have a prevalence of horizontal timber and metal cladding as well as gable forms so that inspiration informed both the material choices and the form of the house.”

Above the central covered deck, a cedar batten ceiling conceals a translucent roofing sheet, allowing dappled light into the area when the sun is high. A concrete terrace on the eastern side of the house provides an alternative option for outdoor living—when the main deck is impacted by weather conditions—and a strong connection with the vegetable gardens.

“The design process involved numerous conversations about the location of the vegetable gardens and how produce would make its way from the garden, through processing and into the kitchen; access via a back door to the butler’s pantry fulfilled this requirement,” Sam says.

Internally, an exposed concrete slab is combined with simple materials dominated by timber with a whitewashed ply ceiling with negative detailing to accentuate the panel pattern, while the full height kitchen cabinetry utilises gaboon ply with cedar handles; details that unite the exterior cladding and interior spaces.

“The modest scale of the internal spaces was driven by the clients who were motivated to live more minimally on and from the land.”

The footprint of the house is small and carefully considered; each space is big enough for its purpose, but no bigger than it needs to be.

Words: Clare Chapman

Images: Emma-Jane Hetherington

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
Perched on a knoll overlooking sleepy farmland and an alluvial valley, the site looks out to The Pinnacles and to the Tairua River.
This house is comprised of two rectangular structures, one clad in larch while the other in long run steel. 
A floating gabled roof encloses a central pavillion containing the public spaces of the house, the kitchen, dining and living area from which a covered deck extends out to the west. 
Taking cues from the rural vernacular of farm buildings, in both structure and materiality, the house is simple and uncomplicated, designed to sit lightly on the land.
A sliding door clad in larch was envisioned as a barn-style door, designed to move across both outdoor area and lounge wall to provide a versatile level of shelter as required.
Seamless connection with the land was a key driver for the design.
A cedar batten ceiling conceals a translucent roofing sheet above the deck that allows dappled light into the area when the sun is high. 
Looking out to The Pinnacles, this covered deck is one of two outdoor living options offering close connection to the land and views. 
An exposed concrete slab is combined with simple materials dominated by timber with a whitewashed ply ceiling.
Negative detailing in the ceiling accentuates the panel pattern. 
Views are carefully framed with full height glazing. 
Timber cabinetry with cedar handles highlights the connection between external and internal material palettes.
Simple functionality and natural, durable materials were specified for the kitchen. 
Views from the living area to the west, towards The Pinnacles.
Like the rest of the house, the bathroom is defined by a simple, natural material palette. 
The barn-style doors allow for protection from sun and the elements.
Perched on a knoll, the house is in a particularly isolated location, which is often cut off from the roads by flooding and extreme weather events.

Products in this project

Show more categories!

Professionals used on this project

Also from Dorrington Atcheson Architects

Show more categories!
Done tagging
Full screen

Hikuai Hill House

Designed for former city-dwelling clients, who had just spent two years cycling through Europe and realised they enjoyed a life of simplicity, this house was conceived as a place of connection with the land. 

Perched on a knoll overlooking sleepy farmland and an alluvial valley, the site chosen to build on has unobstructed views to the west where the Kauaeranga Valley meets The Pinnacles and to the east where the Tairua River cuts through the valley and winds towards the sea. 

“The clients had always lived in cities but they had a dream to own a small block of land and live off that land as much as they could,” architect Sam Atcheson says.

When the site was purchased, there were existing vegetable gardens and mature fruit and nut trees but there had never been a permanent dwelling on the site, just a caravan and a shed. 

“It’s a beautiful spot but quite isolated and one that often has extreme weather. Sometimes they get flooding that cuts off road access to their property. Often, it’s quite foggy in the mornings and you have to expect all weather conditions in one day.

“With both clients able to work from home, the design had to accommodate an office area and room for a growing family—when we designed the house, it was for the clients and their one year old daughter but they have since had another daughter—as well as provide as much connection with the land and views as possible.”

To that end, two rectangular structures, one clad in long run steel and the other in larch, are laid across the site. “These structures house three bedrooms, two bathrooms, the laundry and study and are oriented towards the view of The Pinnacles in one direction and the length of the Tairua River winding towards the sea in the other.”

A floating gabled roof encloses a central pavilion containing the public spaces of the kitchen, dining and living area with a covered deck that extends out to the west and is enclosable with large, sliding barn-style doors. 

“Sheds, barns and rural buildings were used as the key inspiration for this home, which have a prevalence of horizontal timber and metal cladding as well as gable forms so that inspiration informed both the material choices and the form of the house.”

Above the central covered deck, a cedar batten ceiling conceals a translucent roofing sheet, allowing dappled light into the area when the sun is high. A concrete terrace on the eastern side of the house provides an alternative option for outdoor living—when the main deck is impacted by weather conditions—and a strong connection with the vegetable gardens.

“The design process involved numerous conversations about the location of the vegetable gardens and how produce would make its way from the garden, through processing and into the kitchen; access via a back door to the butler’s pantry fulfilled this requirement,” Sam says.

Internally, an exposed concrete slab is combined with simple materials dominated by timber with a whitewashed ply ceiling with negative detailing to accentuate the panel pattern, while the full height kitchen cabinetry utilises gaboon ply with cedar handles; details that unite the exterior cladding and interior spaces.

“The modest scale of the internal spaces was driven by the clients who were motivated to live more minimally on and from the land.”

The footprint of the house is small and carefully considered; each space is big enough for its purpose, but no bigger than it needs to be.

Words: Clare Chapman

Images: Emma-Jane Hetherington

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
Perched on a knoll overlooking sleepy farmland and an alluvial valley, the site looks out to The Pinnacles and to the Tairua River.
This house is comprised of two rectangular structures, one clad in larch while the other in long run steel. 
A floating gabled roof encloses a central pavillion containing the public spaces of the house, the kitchen, dining and living area from which a covered deck extends out to the west. 
Taking cues from the rural vernacular of farm buildings, in both structure and materiality, the house is simple and uncomplicated, designed to sit lightly on the land.
A sliding door clad in larch was envisioned as a barn-style door, designed to move across both outdoor area and lounge wall to provide a versatile level of shelter as required.
Seamless connection with the land was a key driver for the design.
A cedar batten ceiling conceals a translucent roofing sheet above the deck that allows dappled light into the area when the sun is high. 
Looking out to The Pinnacles, this covered deck is one of two outdoor living options offering close connection to the land and views. 
An exposed concrete slab is combined with simple materials dominated by timber with a whitewashed ply ceiling.
Negative detailing in the ceiling accentuates the panel pattern. 
Views are carefully framed with full height glazing. 
Timber cabinetry with cedar handles highlights the connection between external and internal material palettes.
Simple functionality and natural, durable materials were specified for the kitchen. 
Views from the living area to the west, towards The Pinnacles.
Like the rest of the house, the bathroom is defined by a simple, natural material palette. 
The barn-style doors allow for protection from sun and the elements.
Perched on a knoll, the house is in a particularly isolated location, which is often cut off from the roads by flooding and extreme weather events.
Done tagging
Full screen