Tiny box house on the bay

Located on a historic orchard in Ruby Bay, Nelson, this tiny home was built to a tight set of client requirements

Story by: Trends

Designed by: Graham Phipps-Black

About the project (text supplied): The client who was a trained jeweller had simple requirements. She wanted a compact minimalist home with views from a private roof top deck and shaded decks to the north utilising a small rectangular footprint. On site was a house bus which was where the client stayed when visiting and she was comfortable living in compact spaces.

The location in Ruby Bay, Nelson was a historic orchard and vineyard and sat in a slight depression adjacent to Ruby Bay beach. It is also in a coastal hazard zone requiring the floor level to be 1 metre from ground level due to possible flooding. There was a requirement that if necessary the house could be moved.


Graham Phipps-Black – Ruby Bay, Nelson house architecture, bedroom, ceiling, daylighting, estate, floor, home, house, interior design, property, real estate, room, window, wood, orange
Graham Phipps-Black – Ruby Bay, Nelson house

The depression in the site meant views were inhibited by foliage at ground and 1st floor levels but a roof top deck offered sweeping views of Tasman Bay and the Richmond ranges which needed to be taken advantage of.

The result was a 1 bedroom 3.8 x 5m floor plate rectangular “tower” on a platform raised 1m from the ground on timber piles with decks at all levels.

The house was wrapped in ply sheeting both inside and out with the internal ply walls finished exposed fixings complimenting the rustic nature of the area.

Graham Phipps-Black – Ruby Bay, Nelson house architecture, cottage, house, hut, outdoor structure, roof, shed, tree, wood, brown
Graham Phipps-Black – Ruby Bay, Nelson house

The ground floor has doors which slide both ways meaning the living room can be opened out onto the flush level decks giving a much larger living area during the warmer part of the year and the upper floor deck provides shelter from the sun during summer months.

The ground floor consists of kitchen, living and bathroom while the middle floor was a bedroom which opens onto a deck which provides access to the top floor via an external staircase to the roof deck deliberately highlighted giving the house its distinctive appearance from the road. The entire top floor is a roof deck with solid parapet walls providing both privacy and commanding views of Tasman bay.

The house is minimalist, comfortable, warm and very functional with excellent street appeal and houses one very happy client.

Mar 12, 2018





Similar stories

Valley home opens up to the landscape

This contemporary, light-filled home almost seems to rise out of the surrounding Southern Californian landscape Read more

Reducing space, not quality, with a transportable weatherboard home

Waste, costs and space - the more you can reduce in today’s world, the better! This maxim is also true in building design with ‘tiny homes’ no longer perceived of as ... Read more

Changes in exterior materials and form help define the various zones of this family lakeside home

An industrial modern home for a family of eight cleverly caters for everyone to be together or in their own individualistic spaces Read more

Latest books

Home Trends 3403

The design of our homes – new or renovated – should be an individualistic response to our lifestyle, family set-up and budget. But there are also common requirements we should all aim for – a balance of public and private space... Read more

Home Trends 3401

If you're designing a bathroom for a new home or renovating your existing one, you'll quickly discover how involved the process can be.It's not only the challenge of how to fit the different functional zones into the often limi... Read more

Home Trends 3307

While we might all have ideas for the home design that we want, consulting a good architect or designer will also open us up to other design possibilities that we haven't thought of.To help get you started on creating the home ... Read more

Related profiles


If you’re looking for quality timber products, produced by a reputable New Zealand company—look no further than Niagara. Read more


TigerTurf provides synthetic turf surfaces for residential lawns and home recreation, commercial landscaping, sports grounds and school campuses. Read more