Oneroa House - SGA | ArchiPro

Oneroa House

This perfect winter retreat on Waiheke Island offers panoramic ocean views, while satisfying the owners’ passions for entertaining friends and family with homegrown wine and food.

What’s not to love about an island retreat that can be enjoyed in winter as much as summer, with beaches and wineries nearby, easy access to good fishing hotspots, and a vineyard to harvest and make wine? The site also enjoys panoramic ocean views from Oneroa Bay to Hakaimango Point, and to the Hauraki Gulf in the distance.

Originally from Rotorua, the owners chose this Waiheke Island site to create a home where they could pursue their main passions for winegrowing, cooking, crafts and boating. They replaced Sauvignon Blanc grapevines growing on the rolling hills to the east with their favourite wine grape, Syrah. In the basement, they installed a wine cellar and, in the entertainment space, an authentic Italian pizza oven to help satisfy their guests. This was pimped up by the architect and builder – covered in a thick and curvaceous gunmetal-grey coating that matches the surrounding concrete wall.

Architect Dave Strachan, founder of Strachan Group Architects (SGA), describes the entertaining room as “almost like the pizza shop”. It’s a casual space with a large wooden dining table at its centre that you enter via huge contemporary barn doors. Opposite the fire and oven, glazed sliding doors open into a timber-rich kitchen and another dining area, creating a warm atmosphere and a nice flow throughout the main living spaces.

Clerestory windows just under the roof edges are designed to draw in light, while the concrete wall helps protect the house from southerly winds. The simple skillion roof appears to float over the heavier form and slopes down the length of the building towards the northwest. At this end of the building, a mezzanine master suite overlooks a double-height lounge, study and office, which is linked to guest bedrooms, a craft room, the sauna, a wine cellar, and an outside deck with spa pool.

SGA’s designs often include courtyards in or alongside its houses. “They help to precondition the air with indoor plants that transpire and give off moisture,” says Dave. “You can bring in fresh air with louvres or operable windows, allowing the space to breathe,” says Dave. “So, not only do we have a basic air conditioner, but the beauty and feeling of having plants up against the building.”

The courtyard is accessed via the garage, the laundry, the hallway or through the main barn door entry and along a paved and plant-lined walkway. If you come straight from the local beach, it captures any stray sand as you walk to the shower. A beautiful timber-slatted roof draws light into the courtyard and walkway. “You’re moving through a space that feels good to be within,” remarks Dave. “In this case, it enables us to pull the last of the afternoon sun into the building.”

On the internal wall of the courtyard, a glazed display wall forms the backdrop to the lounge and kitchen. Part of the owners’ brief to the architects was to design somewhere to show their collection of art glassware and the courtyard acts like an art gallery, with its beautiful play of light reflected through the colours of the glass.

As well as capturing views and sunlight, SGA’s design is also a celebration of wood. Even the in-situ concrete walls are textured with the grain of rough-sawn pine. While outside, cedar cladding is punctuated by copper window bays, providing unexpected sight lines down to the picturesque bay. Underneath the edges of the roof overhang, cedar continues from the soffits into the interior ceiling.  

The materials were chosen for low-maintenance and durability to suit the coastal environment, where salt and wind can be challenging. Given the unpredictability of the weather, the architects needed to create areas out of the wind, so there are decked areas that can be occupied away from the direction of the wind. Internally, the spaces can be opened or closed up, depending on what the weather is doing.

While architecturally-designed houses are typically sited beside the coast or within a rural or an urban area, Oneroa House offers both seaside and rural aspects. At night, coastal properties just offer the blackness of the sea as a view, so there is little to see, but “this particular property offers some Kiwi-ness,” suggests Dave. “There are barns, little buildings, expensive buildings, rocky outcrops, bays, and you can see the changing light and conditions. It’s an active view that’s quite special.”

Oneroa House not only embodies the architects’ design approach but the owners’ dreams have well and truly been embedded into its DNA. Dave remarks, “As architects, we feel really privileged when clients enable us to be part of adding a framework of buildings, and some life, around their dreams.”

The owners’ passion for the landscape ensures this project will be an ongoing process to develop the whole site. “They occupy the land beyond and not just the building – they’re stretching their fingers out into the landscape, making it all one.”


Words by Justine Harvey.

Photography & videography by Simon Devitt and Sampford Cathie 

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
Oneroa House: Designing For Passions
Oneroa House is partly built on the foundations of a previous building, laid out to follow the contours of the land and with a sloping roof that appears to float over clerestory windows.
Enter through a huge timber barn door with handcrafted metal hardware. 
The entertainment room and walkway to the courtyard. Both photographs by ArchiPro.
Looking through the entertainment room, across the balcony to expansive views over a vineyard of Syrah grapes, Oneroa Bay to the right and bush to the east.
The pizza shop! In the entertainment room, an authentic Italian wood-fired pizza oven was built to satisfy guests. Photograph by ArchiPro.
The bespoke plywood kitchen is a smooth and elegant contrast to the textured concrete and tiled floor seen in the entertainment room. Photograph by ArchiPro.
This cooks’ kitchen has a super functional layout, robust surfaces and easy access from either side of the island.
Overlooking the vineyard, a casual dining area is lined in elite birch plywood by Plytech and American white oak flooring to match the rest of the home. Photograph by ArchiPro.
The dining and lounge area features bespoke cabinetry designed by the architect.
Looking from the lounge towards the entertainment room. 
A casual lounge area is a cosy nook with a fireplace that keeps the space toasty during winter. Photograph by ArchiPro.
The owners’ glass art collection is showcased in this timber display case that forms the backdrop to both the courtyard and lounge. Photograph by ArchiPro.
The courtyard leads into the garage (left), the bathroom (centre), the lounge (right) and, inbetween, a staircase leads downstails.
A robust bathroom features decked flooring and slatted timber ceiling.
Cedar weatherboards and shuttered concrete lines the walkway to/from the courtyard.
The master bedroom features ocean views and a sliding window that overlooks a second lounge, a library and a study. Photograph by ArchiPro.
The master bedroom has a sliding window that opens up and looks north under an overhanging eave to the treetops.
The study off the downstairs lounge has an ocean view.
Timber, masonry and copper elements provide ‘bulletproof’ durability..
The south-facing end of the building is solid and robust to protect against southerly winds. A balcony overlooks the vineyard.
The cedar ceiling flows out into the soffit and is bevelled along the edges. helping to give the roof an appearance of floating over its solid concrete form..
Original sketch plan by SGA indicates the layering of the forms that make up Oneroa House set within the contouring landscape.
The site plan by SGA shows Oneroa House among the existing accommodation that is dotted around the site.
Early architect's sketch of the upper-level plan of Oneroa House, courtesy of SGA.
An early architect's sketch of the lower-level plan indicates an original plan to angle the end of the form facing south-east towards Oneroa Bay.
Sketch of cross-section through Oneroa House, by SGA, shows the lower and upper levels that follows the contour of the land.

Products in this project