This house called Kawakawa House was built by Herbst Architects Studio in Piha, New Zealand. The house stands on a concrete base and steel stilts to provide a view through the dense forest (Pōhutukawa trees) to the beach.
The location is extremely sun-exposed and the design concept was developed out of the need to maximize the amount of sunlight and allow for 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 columns with a spiral staircase for access. The front of this box faces the sea and opens with a series of sliding doors. A glass balustrade protects the kitchen, living and dining area from the wind. The doors also open to a courtyard with a covered floor and seating in the middle of the first floor.
The bedrooms have been set up in the sheltered east half of the house (for more privacy), where full-height glazing has been replaced with narrow picture windows overlooking 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 to the surrounding natural landscape. In the bathrooms, deep green glass mosaic tiles evoke the treetops outdoors, providing a textured surface for the clergy’s dappled light to move across.
A glazed clerestory wraps around the top of the home, which 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 lining the home’s more private spaces.