Dorrington Atcheson Architects have recently completed the Easterbrook House, located in Auckland, New Zealand.
Taking its design cues from the utilitarian forms of a tent and a shed, this Titirangi home for an extended family is a duo of compact buildings that uses a humble set of materials to allow the landscape its rightful place in the scheme.
Sited for sun, seclusion and views of the surrounding bush, the main dwelling and its ‘mini me’ cousin share an aesthetic and similar planning. The primary home is conceived as a barn-like pavilion with bedrooms for adults and kids located at opposite ends. A canopy-like roof is strung between these more-solid bookends to architecturally mimic a tarpaulin.
A modest footprint of 120-square-metres called for meticulous planning with no wasted space. The aim was to live big in this small dwelling. Although the rectangular shape is only 4 metres wide, the soaring mono-pitch roof and full-height glazing brings a feeling of capaciousness to the main living zone. A split-truss roof allows an external pergola to shade the home in summer and clerestory windows bring in low winter light. The low-key combination of glulam beams, plywood walls and ceilings, aluminium joinery and concrete floors lends a casual holiday feel.
A sunken lounge in the open-plan living zone is a modern take on the 70s conversation pit and this change in level demarcates the space. Built-in furniture ensured more space saving and includes an entertainment unit as well as an L-shaped banquette backed by bookshelves. Off the kitchen, a set of cavity sliders demarcates a spare bedroom or office. A bed here folds up into the wall. Board-and-batten detailing on this insertion further defines this zone and unexpectedly brings the barn-like exterior detailing indoors.
Built-in bunks in the kids’ bedrooms can readily be converted to a desk – an aspect which future proofs the home for a growing family. Pops of primary colour were the result of a collaboration between the homeowners and the project architect. This is a palette with an unmistakeable personality that not only reflects the casual, ‘holiday-like’ nature of the architecture, but captures a playfulness that’s an everyday thrill for children and the young at heart. Determined shades of orange, red, yellow and blue on doors, kitchen cabinetry and built-in furniture are a delightful surprise amidst the otherwise pared-back materiality.
Although the home and its smaller counterpart have just been completed, they appear long settled in this verdant environment. That’s a result of an honest design that harks back to vernacular buildings and openly tell the story of how they were made.
Architect: Dorrington Atcheson Architects
Photography by Emma-Jane Hetherington