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Contemporary Home On Stilts

This house, called Kawakawa House, was built by the Herbst Architects studio in Piha, New Zealand. The house stands on a concrete base and steel stilts to provide a view through the dense forests (Pōhutukawa trees) to the beach.

The site is extremely exposed to the sun and the concept for the design was developed out of the need to maximize the amount of sunlight and allow a visual exploration of the beauty of the treetops. As a result, the house is a simple box on a concrete base that protrudes and is supported by slender steel pillars with a spiral staircase for access. The front of this box faces the sea and can be opened with a series of sliding doors. A glass balustrade protects the kitchen, living and dining areas from wind. The doors can also open to an outdoor courtyard with a covered floor and seating in the middle of the first floor.

The bedrooms have been set up in the sheltered eastern half of the house (for more privacy), where the full-height glazing has been replaced with slim picture windows with a view of the forest. Two larger bedrooms are located on either side of a bedroom that leads to a private wooden bridge that connects the house directly with the surrounding natural landscape. In the bathrooms, deep green glass mosaic tiles are reminiscent of the treetops outdoors, providing a textured surface for the dappled light of the clergy to move across.

Around the top of the house is a glazed clerestory that uses angled plywood ceilings to direct light into the living spaces. Internally, the contrast between exposure and protection is reflected in the use of light wood and dark birch panels that line the more private spaces of the home.

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