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House of the Month // MAY 2014


Not that long ago I came across Studio John Irving Architect and was immediately impressed by their understated, yet somehow supremely confident design sensibilities. Waiheke Beach House is a great example of this – at once spacious, engaging, and subtle. Nothing about this space is boastful or showy, and yet I can’t help but feel jealous of the lucky people who get to call it theirs!

Completed just recently, this house is a clever and beautiful response to the surrounding context (views views views!), client brief, and sloping site. The main living areas provide a wonderful balance between accounting for views, outdoor living sapces, and interior functionality. Most of all, it is the way in which these three key elements are tied together and work in harmony that impresses me. Never does one element seem to dominate, or get in the way of the other. It is as though there has been no need to compromise on satisfying any of these issues in resolving the complex requirements of the site or brief. How fabulous that the design result could be so good as to assume no room for potential improvement!

All photographs from Studio John Irving Architects


The approach to the house, nestled into the hillside.


The see through nature of the house, taking advantage of the views, light, and ocean air.



The lines between inside and outside are blurred in the main living pavillion, and give a wonderful sense of serenity and openness. The building’s material palette of muted greys and washed timbers provide a relaxed backdrop, whilst the black steel frames views and connections to the building’s surroundings.



The thresholds between inside and out are manipulated so that both spaces feel a part of one another. The careful detail given to the ground plane is an example of this, and provides an easy and inviting flow between the house, deck, and grassed courtyard.



Cast in situ pale grey concrete, fine steel detailing, soft marble benchtops, pale timber floors and framed views give a sophisticated, yet calm nature to the house.



In many cases, simple design thinking is considered best. The bunk room is a quiet, cosy, cave-like space.



As dusk falls, the hues of the house begin to shift from what seemed a cool palette during the bright days, to warm, cosy yellows that welcome in the blue night sky.



From the courtyard, the living pavillion and deck seem light and non-intrusive to the surrounding landscape and views.



The outdoor living areas are deliberate and highly functional. They are private, protected, and suited to all seasons.



The house sits snugly within the sloping landscape, negotiating it with a broad stair which runs from the bottom of the house to the top.



From a distance, the house is low impact and in keeping with its seaside context.


About the Author:

Our principle designer Poppy is a Masters of Architecture graduate from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She graduated in 2013 with First Class Honours, received the Dean's Medal and was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter Masters of Architecture Graduate of the Year prize. In 2010, Poppy received the Eric Parker Travelling Scholarship encouraging the research and drawing of architecture.

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