A dwelling that sat lightly on the land was the fundamental idea for this holiday home by Box Build. The home's upper storey cantilevers beyond the lower level by 4 metres – stretching out to the Northland views before it

Designed by: Box Build

From the designers:

With rolling topography, views that stretch all the way to the Hen & Chickens Islands, and only five minutes from the spectacular Tara Iti golf course, securing a site at the Sandhills estate, Northland, was like getting a hole in one. So when Box was asked to conceptualise a design for a holiday escape on this north-facing section, design manager Tony Borland-Lye knew he had to pull a birdie out of the bag. 

The owner came armed with an inspiration sheet of modernist images, including his home in Auckland – a mid-century gem by Czechozlovakian émigré Vlad Cacala.

A dwelling that sat lightly on the land was the fundamental idea. Tony Borland-Lye took up his pencil and sketched two pavilions, separated by a deck and held up like an object on display on a concrete-block base.  

We wanted a horizontal form that was anchored to the ground at just one point, rather than a two-storeyed monolith that obliterated the outlook on approach.

Tony Borland-Lye

The concept meant the upper level cantilevered significantly on its ‘plinth’ while the central aperture of the linking deck not only broke up the mass of the rectangle but allowed a clear line of sight to the view. 

The verdict from the owner: the perfect approach shot – and one that was well-lined up for success with just a couple of tweaks. 

In response, the main change was that the two wings, originally conceptualised as semi-independent structures, were brought together – a budget-saving decision. 

At 28m long, the upper storey cantilevers beyond the lower level by 4m on each side and by 2.5m at the front of the home to the north, an expression of high-end engineering that allows the form to float in space.

A screen on the lower level opens up to reveal a parking area – for cars and the odd golf cart – which punches through the building while closed-in soffits tidy up the structural moves: “That was important because a lot of the underside of the home is on show.”

Along with the homeowner, the Sandhills Design Review Group, steered by well-known architects Pip Cheshire and Patrick Clifford, also gave it the thumbs up. 

“Naturally, in a sub-division of this quality, there are strict covenants. Although this is a holiday home with a relaxed feel it also has a level of formality that fits seamlessly alongside the other buildings in the development,” says the design manager.

The material palette takes its cue from the rural vernacular and is sophisticated-rustic, with the central connector clad in zinc tray and vertical cedar on the two ‘wings’. 

“I like to use vertical cladding to break up the horizontal a little,” says Tony Borland-Lye.

Holding its own in the dress circle of houses that are designed by big-name architects on the estate, this is not your typical Box house. 

Yes, this holiday home has features from our stable – its modernist aesthetic and its full-height joinery, for instance – but it’s dialling the architecture up a notch.

Tony Borland-Lye

Credit list

Building design
Kitchen manufacturer
Fluid Interiors
Cedar; exposed concrete block
Window/door joinery
Bedroom flooring:
Mezzo see-through gas fireplace, from West City Heating Service
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Winner
Design roles
Box Build design manager Tony Borland-Lye – Initial sketch design; co-designer Tim Hogarth – translated the concept to the digital model
Kitchen designer and interior designer
Danielle Bates
RBT Design
Main flooring – living areas:
Timber overlay
Feature light fittings

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Tony Nyberg

20 Dec, 2020

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