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
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