Beauty, imperfection and the passing of time

This eco-friendly home's 'mysterious' exterior is derived from the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, embracing the transience and imperfection of raw materials to evoke time passed

Designed by Bob Burnett Architecture

From the designers:

The owners’ brief for this home was clear early on – to create a timeless yet forward thinking design, close to nature, with a spacious and light interior. 

The result is a modern reinterpretation of an iconic Christchurch 1909 California bungalow style which incorporates Japanese design philosophy.

The dark yet rich weatherboard cladding anchored by river stone walls ground the home, tying into landscaping that also reflects the design influences of Japanese architecture (Japanese maples) and California bungalows (a Californian redwood tree).

This dark, timeless exterior provides a sense of mystery, derived from the Japanese philosophy of 'wabi-sabi', embracing the transience and imperfection of the raw materials used, giving the sense that the home could have already stood on its site for decades. 

This raw style spans across the entire project from the custom-made front door to the matching mailbox, yet the house still embeds cutting edge, forward thinking Superhome (healthier/more energy efficient) standards to create an energy efficient, healthy environment.

Japanese influence continues in the home’s interiors, featuring rooms that can be personalised for future demands flowing from one to the other, eliminating passageways and maximising usable space. 

Hidden Shoji sliding doors allow spaces to be opened up or closed off depending on their desired usage. 

These are further enhanced with 'ranmas', from Japan, a transom above doors serving as a traditional welcome to visitors. 

Expansive glazing invites the changing colours of the season inside from the garden, further enhanced by the light toned, double-height rooms that reflect light deep inside.

Design features & creative solutions

With function very much a part of Japanese philosophy, the home's design is as much hidden as it is visual. 

Green features include rainwater/grey water recycling, solar panels and batteries, along with a high-performance thermal envelope resulting in low running costs. 

This includes triple glazed high-performance windows, super-insulated Ecopanel walls, minimal thermal bridging, an airtight building envelope, and a mechanical heat recovery ventilation system – all of which represent a major divergence from traditional bungalows.

Designer Bob Burnett and Japanese Architect Shizuka Yasui described the owners as being "the best part of the home". 

Sharing a love for Japanese design allowed for a harmonic and consistent meeting of the minds in the home’s creation. 

The house is a grand reflection of its owners, allowing their bookshelves and artwork to provide the home’s colour scheme, benefiting from unobtrusive light tones throughout. 

Japanese design is further explored in the use of the 'engawa' – the wraparound veranda enhancing indoor-outdoor flow, enclosed within the house’s raw 'wabi-sabi' external appearance.

The home also takes advantage of its well-established landscaping – using the mature trees as natural shading and complementing the traditional rooflines which also prevent overheating. 

This combined with biophilic design and use of natural materials create a very organic feel. 

Inside, the main library and dining areas benefit from the use of double-height ceilings to not only increase natural light but also utilise a compression and release experience as one walks throughout the house.

Credit list

Foreverbeech HT61 horizontal bevelback weatherboards, stain finished in Resene Woodsman Sheer Black; Foreverbeech HT51 Vertical Shiplap weatherboards, stain finished in Resene Woodsman Nutmeg; Classic Stone Colonial Schist veneer (Queenstown schist).
Koffman Windows uPVC window joinery with clear triple glazing, Low-E; Xcel, argon-filled cavity with thermal spacer
Dan Saunders Construction
Gerard Senator pressed metal tile
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Runner Up

Designed by: Bob Burnett Architecture

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Dennis Radermacher

26 Feb, 2023

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