Ohauiti House - Thorne Group Architecture | ArchiPro

Ohauiti House

In the hills of Ohauiti, just south of Tauranga, Thorne Group Architecture has designed a generous family home for a young couple who are as passionate about sustainable living as they are about entertaining.

Designed on a central axis to Mount Maunganui with picture postcard views over the Bay of Plenty landscape, Ohauiti House is a functional family home with some serious environmental credentials too, including rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic solar panels.

The site very much drove the design, according to specific planning criteria for the area, such as low reflectivity materials and a limited height restriction. “This and the client’s desire for natural materials pretty much set the direction of the design in terms of an aesthetic,” says Jon McAlpine, designer and director of Thorne Group Architecture.

“Ohauiti House is a simple single-level home that doesn’t look like it’s trying too hard with too many things going on,” explains Jon. “A pavilion-style form has a linking flat roof that cantilevers out from the north elevation, making the home appear both modern and traditional at the same time.”

“We didn’t want the house to stick out in the landscape,” he adds, “It has its roots where it sits in the land and has an organic feel, with lots of natural materials like stone and cedar. When you come through the entry, there is a stone spine wall that links the outside materials and textures to the interior, which runs through into the open-plan kitchen/dining/living area.”

The interior layout is designed for flexible living with two adjoining wings containing separate living spaces that are both linked to a covered outdoor area. In one wing, the master suite is completely separate from the rest of the house and includes an en-suite bathroom and an office that could also be used as a nursery. In the other wing are two guest bedrooms and a media room, and jutting out of the south-facing elevation is a double garage. The layout all comes together in the middle – in the congregation areas of the house.

Facing north, the living and dining areas open up to a sheltered decked terrace – created by a large cantilevered roof structure – and to a large outdoor swimming pool. High raking ceilings help to create a light-filled space and to capture the views of the surrounding landscape. This painted tongue and groove ceiling continues from the interior through onto the soffit of the cantilevered structure.

From the living space, a separate lounge/media room can be opened or closed off via large, stack-and-slide cedar barn doors, which were designed by Jon. Here, a cosy window seating takes in a picturesque view of Mount Maunganui, complete with stunning sunsets.

The covered outdoor area has been recessed into the building envelope for protection from strong prevailing westerly winds – made even cosier and more intimate by a chunky outdoor stone fireplace and black soffits. This partly enclosed dining space is connected to an adjacent service kitchen, designed for entertaining.

“At the owners’ request we inserted photovoltaic panels on the roof to capture the sun’s energy during the day to be used as electricity within the house,” explains Jon. “In fact, about 75 per cent of the homes we design have PV panels now, which is a great sign.” Other products on Ohauiti House that have eco credentials are the rainwater harvesting, lots of insulation, low-VOC paints, double glazing and thermally broken joinery.

“We call this a country house,” says Jon. “But it’s also very modern. It’s a warm, flexible and functional home that’s set up for family living and entertaining but it’s also pretty self-sufficient.”

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Site plan by Thorne Group Architecture.
North elevation by Thorne Group Architecture.
East elevation by Thorne Group Architecture.
South elevation by Thorne Group Architecture.
West elevation by Thorne Group Architecture.