For Under Pohutukawa House Herbst Architects were presented with a challenging site. The beachside site was almost entirely covered with mature pohutukawa trees — New Zealand natives. As part of a continuous belt of forest running along the beachfront, this site required a sensitive and poetic response…
"The circumstances not so much allowed, but dictated a sensitive poetic response to a building that, in order to exist would require the destruction of a large number of mature trees. To do this we looked to the trees themselves to give us the cues that we needed." — Herbst Architects
Public and Private Zones
The architects organised the spaces into public and private zones which left them with smaller areas to fit amongst the trees. The private bedroom areas and the garage become timber towers, representing freshly sawn stumps of trees necessarily removed from the site.
Freshly Sawn Stumps
Irregularly sawn timber battens stained black and brown clad the towers to represent the bark of the pohutukawa stumps and simultaneously help the home to blend in with its surrounds. Inside, the spaces feel as if they've been freshly sawn from the stumps, with surfaces clad in a light timber mimicking pohutukawa.
Bridging the Natural and the Built
The more open public spaces such as the living areas are visually connected to the pohutukawa forest and create a literal bridge between the natural environment and the home. The roof plane disintegrates into a frayed edge which filters light in the same way the leaf canopy does.
Tree-like columns support the roof of the living area. The columns, however, are intentionally geometric, representing the ordering of nature as it becomes part of the home.
Surrounded by Canopies
The double-height public space responds to the height of the surrounding trees. Part of the roof plane is glass to maximise the view of the trees from within the light-filled home. From the walkway connecting the upper level bedrooms, you get a real sense of experiencing both man-made and natural canopies.
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Ground Floor Plan
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Upper Floor Plan
Under Pohutukawa House
Under Pohutukawa House truly gives you the sense of living under a natural canopy. Despite the need for removal of some mature trees to realise this project, the home is a sensitive addition to the Pohutukawa forest. Under Pohutukawa House effortlessly blends in with its natural surrounds and gives the sense of living within the forest.