How clever design overcame this incredibly narrow bathroom footprint

The bathroom in this home is a great example of how a project’s biggest design challenge can end up being the stand out feature. Discover how it masterfully overcame its narrow 1.4m x 8m space

When it comes to design, “thinking outside the box” is a practice needed to create something unique and interesting. The intrigue of this bathroom, however, came from an architect thinking quite literally “inside the box”.

Sitting high on a hill in rural, south-eastern Auckland, this family home has sweeping views from the Manukau Heads across to the Coromandel. The clients - a farmer, a landscape gardener and their adult family, asked Roy Tebbutt of Strachan Group Architects to design an efficient and flexible home that could comfortably accommodate everyone.

Despite the expansive setting, the site’s tricky topography produced a pre-determined 20m x 20m building platform for the house. Architect Roy Tebbutt says he made a conscious choice to resist spreading out across the landscape and to remain within this confined space.  “This led to a process of subtraction – of cutting away space not required,” he explains.

Good architecture is often born as a result of these kinds of restrictions. Limitations can provide a clear framework to create something unique. The challenge here was to fit an ensuite into the platform footprint while still meeting all of the owner’s requirements.

The specific brief for the ensuite was to create a space with a warm Japanese feel where views across to the harbour could be experienced from the shower. The clients also wanted the toilet to be a separate space, which could be closed off from the bathing area.

Tebbutt’s first move was to rethink the traditional bathroom footprint. Instead of a prescriptive boxy response he decided to slice off one side of the house to accommodate the ensuite. A tubular feeling was deliberately created with a restrained 1.4m width and generous 8m length space. 

“This works to accentuate the view out the full height window at the end of the shower,” explains Tebbutt.

The arrangement of the space has been carefully considered to meet the brief requirements. The toilet sits separately to one end of the corridor-like footprint with the shower placed down the other. The two ‘wings’ of the ensuite are also delineated through the choice of materials.

"This works to accentuate the view out the full height window at the end of the shower,”

The side with the vanity and toilet is warm with golden oak flooring and Siberian larch panelling on the walls. The generous walk-in shower sits at the other end, flush with the rest of the room. Cocooned in moody, large-scale tiles the shower space immediately pulls the eye out towards the rolling, rural view. And, devoid of any doors or screening each end has a sense of connectedness. 

The result is an interesting use of space with a deceptive air of simplicity.

Credit list

Strachan Group Architects
Taj Mahal Granite from Granite Benchtop Co
Waterware Modern Swivel Vessel Basin Mixer - Elite Bathroomware
Caroma Luna BTW - Elite Bathroomware
Oak Flooring. Vitex decking duckboard in the shower
Network Umber from Tile Depot
Weiss FV160 Extraction Fan - Elite Bathroomware
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Bathrooms – Winner
Vanity cabinetry
Birch Plywood, custom made by Carlielle Kitchens
Cervo Oval from Elite Bathroomware
Shower fittings
Elipse Round 3 Fcn Slide Shower & Loft Round Rain head - Elite Bathroomware
Elite Round Heated Towel Rail
Siberian Larch panelling - Rosenfeld Kitson
Hot water systems
HJ Cooper Stainless Steel Mains Pressure Solar Ready

Designed by: Strachan Group Architects

Story by: Lakshmi Krishnasamy

Photography by: Simon Devitt

06 Sep, 2020

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