Okahu Bay House

Okahu Bay House perches very quietly high on the slopes overlooking Okahu Bay, a representation of the boating activity below as it reads as two catamaran hulls sheathed in copper.

This is a family home for return-clients on an eastern slope above Okahu Bay with stunning views framed by Pohutakawa. The key challenges were the very steep driveway which enters the site in the prime view, and a very large apartment building on the northern boundary.

The house was to operate primarily for the couple and their entertaining maximising the view, with separate apartment-style living for four children who come and go. The house was to be flexible into the future and include lift access. A large garage was required to accommodate cars and boats. The style would reflect their connection to the harbour and their boating lifestyle.

A key decision was to elevate the primary living to capitalise on the views and at the same time to separate it from the necessary car circulation. This was achieved, with loose reference to sailing and catamaran hulls, projecting out and over the lower garage and apartment.

A rational plan continued to evolve, skewing and sliding as it responded to the site. This created a generous entry scoop on one side and a sheltered sunny deck with connection to the ground on the other.

The two copper sheathed hulls are held apart by the generous double-height entry. The guest is gracefully welcomed, drawn up by the light and the view is gradually revealed. External claddings are continued in this space, emphasising it as one of transition. One side is open-plan living, dining kitchen, and the other private bedrooms and study/living.

The kitchen and intimate dining deck are held off the main ‘hull’ in a lightweight timber pod which doubles as a cover to the outdoor space of the lower apartment. This pod is a buffer to the large neighbouring building while allowing northern sun over to clerestory living/dining windows. A cedar sliding-panel can give complete privacy when required and a motorised blind sun and rain protection.

The materials have been chosen to express the form. A solid masonry base supports the dynamic copper shells. The view shafts of the hull spaces end in large glass screens which display the ever-changing view as a large continuous theatre. The engagement with the public is restricted to the more demure pod deck slipping out to the side. Here one feels both protected and connected in an intimate space.